Controlling who sees which Twitter status updates (tweets)

These days, many of the items that would once have warranted a blog post end up as one of my bookmarks on delicious (posted monthly to this blog in a “useful links” post, with the help of Postalicious) or on my Twitter stream (and I will start to blog the more useful tweets here soon) but I have to admit that, for a long-time tech blogger, I’m still a bit of a newbie when it comes to social media.

I’ve learned a lot though in the last 24 hours – last night I retweeted (the old way – using RT and adding a comment with ^MW then my text – rather than using Twitter’s new retweet function) and the original author thought I was trying to make them look bad.  If getting a message into 140 characters is difficult (even worse than avoiding unintentional emotion in e-mail, which is essentially an emotionless medium), getting it into a 20 or 30 character comment on someone else’s tweet is tough.  Thankfully, that was all resolved with a few more tweets this morning but I noticed that some of the messages I saw were using .@username and that got me wondering what the . is for.

Googling . and @ is not easy so I asked @brynmorgan, who I’d seen use this method, and he explained that the . broadcasts his message to all of his followers, because unless someone also follows me they don’t see a normal @ reply.  I’d never quite understood if my followers saw all of the responses that I posted to @username and now it makes sense.  I thought that might be useful for others so, if assuming I have understood this correctly:

  • @username will direct a tweet to a specific user and if someone follows both the sender and the specified username, they will see the message.
  • .@username will direct a tweet to a user and all of the sender’s followers will see the message.
  • D username is a direct message between two Twitter users (i.e. a private message).

Thanks to Bryn for educating me and, by the way, there’s some interesting commentary on social media over on the Brynovation blog.

2 thoughts on “Controlling who sees which Twitter status updates (tweets)


  1. I didn’t know that either – and since you taught me twitter, I’m glad you passed this info on, or I’d have never known it! Merry Christmas!

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