Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Twitter's Secret “Guest Mode” (shkspr.mobi)
308 points by edent 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments

You can "follow" accounts without becoming a follower in normal mode too. I frequently do this just to keep timelines clear.

All you have to do is add an account to a private list (without following them) and then view the timeline for that list. I really only ever interact with Twitter through Tweetbot (tear today!) or Tweetdeck, so I have one list I call "The Group" that is a highly curated list of folks I actually want to see stuff from, and a few other lists of accounts that are intermittently interesting but that I don't need to actually follow.

Because following an account is akin to an endorsement or at least a weak association in a way, this method is also interesting when it would be useful to stay updated with an account without strictly associating it. (Some will immediately think of political accounts or counter-culture accounts; I actually use it when following companies that I might need to see news from like my utility but that I don't want to say "Hey spam me with your PR!")

Yes, I've been "follow"ing users using lists for a long time. I have a "Left" and "Right" list and use Twidere (on mobile) and Tweetdeck (on the laptop) to keep track of current political banter using the two lists. Seeing opposing views on the same topics side-by-side is a great way to understand and fact-check opposing viewpoints.

Additionally, it's good to keep track of who switched sides on a particular topic or in general - occasionally, I'll find a viewpoint that doesn't "belong" to the list and figure out that the person has switched sides. It's interesting to track when that happened and why...

> I have a "Left" and "Right" list and use Twidere (on mobile) and Tweetdeck (on the laptop) to keep track of current political banter using the two lists.

If only this would work for outbound stuff (likes/retweets); i.e. sorting my followers into dedicated lists A, B and C. When switching to C mode, my retweets and likes will rank low priority on lists A and B and high on list C.

I use this feature for accounts that I binge-consume, and/or that tweet so frequently that they would overrun my regular stream. It's not that I don't want to "endorse" them, it's just that they're too noisy.

(I use Reddit's multis for a similar purpose.)

I love these kind of legacy features. Reminds me of better times when sites could be handled, albiet more basically, by small dinky devices.

At various times, I've written "graceful degredation/progressive enhancement"-friendly versions of work internal sites so people working on the floor could access them...from a scan gun running Windows mobile.

Was it pretty? Not really. Did it respond well to only having arrow keys and a numpad? I tried, and would like to day yes, but who can say? You can't optimize for the ux without previous experience as a user imho.

Edit: fix typos

I wonder what other legacy, potentially useful features lurk behind user-agent gates. For example, you can get messages to work on the mobile version of Facebook by switching to a very old user agent. Maybe I should just permanently switch to an IE6 user agent, I wonder how many websites would still show the popup to encourage me to get a decent browser.

I discovered that changing a few headers gives you full access to the private/internal API used by the mobile app of a pretty massive website.

The biggest WTF is you have to send a Bearer Token but the value isn't checked.

So many cool things you can discover with Charles

that is terrifying!

You can also view Facebook messages on mobile without Messenger by switching to the "Desktop Site" mode for your mobile browser.

Or you can use https://mbasic.facebook.com/ where the messsenger works too.

There's also Facebook's own Messenger Lite app if you're worried about bloat. It does everything I need and is about 10% of the size of full-blown Messenger.

messenger lite doesn't annihilate your battery like the full-featured messenger does, either

Yes, but it's a pretty bad experience - it has no js, so you need to keep refreshing the page. But yeah, I've used it on occasion.

Instagram has a nice one where you can take screenshot's with the camera feature via a desktop browser using the mobile user-agent.

I only use closed platforms like Facebook and Twitter when it's absolutely necessary (ie in case of Twitter, almost never).

Why would Twitter even block anonymous users from read-accessing its platform? Whatever the reason might be, it's not beneficial to me, the spirit of open communication or society in general.

This is like a newspaper that only makes a special version just for you, and won't let you peak at what other people are seeing. I don't believe they have anything good in mind. With Twitter they can't have so much control over your communications but they certainly try their best.

For the record, bandwidth is not a problem. Even including the massive amount of spam (2,400 tweets/day/account are allowed) and over 300M tweets per day, the total size of a daily non-compressed archive would be under 80GB, probably closer to 40-50GB pre-compression and less after that. It could be distributed as a single torrent with virtually no cost to Twitter.

Most newspapers cost and have costed money. So I think it would be fair to argue that newspapers gated non-paying users from read-accessing the platform. Even before that, for the numerical majority of human history most people did not have access to newspapers because they were gated by illiteracy. The idea of openness can't be a hollow ideal; more people have access to communication under the closed system you're decrying than under the open one you're championing.

The window of human history where newspapers might be considered moderately open, even in the West, is quite small. Probably from about the beginning of America's transformation into a car country -- around 1930 or so was the first time most people could a) read, b) afford, and c) conveniently get a paper delivered to home.

And they were only probably truly "open" in the sense of not requiring any transaction to access them for the period between about 1996 (around when online newspapers came around) and let's say around 2010-2011 when the NYT implemented the first major metered paywall.

So openness is good and I support it, but also am skeptical of a view of history that the world was open until Twitter closed it.

But we are where we are, now. Given that Twitter is absolutely not going to do your daily tweet torrent idea (the Library of Congress stopped archiving Twitter after concluding the value in doing so was nil, and clearly the mechanism for open preservation of the social web would be through large, official cultural institutions and not Twitter exposing private functionality to you at their own expense), I think ultimately there are two questions to ask: 1) Are you willing to engage in some kind of membership transaction to access a service? 2) Given that the cost of membership is personal information, if this bothers you, what measures can you take to limit it?

We used to refer to this as “frictionless follow”.

(former tweep)

I am curious if anyone tested these legacy end points / cookie inputs for sql injection (or something along those lines).

Welp, that's going away soon, no doubt.

Nah, I doubt it's actually a forgotten feature, it's probably got some known use cases. I bet it will stick around

If it's a forgotten feature, it's a potential security risk. It'll go away.

I don't get it. You can just browse to someone's profile without needing to log in. No trickery required. Twitter is public.

Indeed. However, you can only see non-replies, as the "tweets and replies" section started requiring authentication not long ago.

Which is annoying when your power company uses Twitter as their public notice board but only tweet replies to people about the status of the outage.

View it in Chrome with the User-Agent Switcher set to "MeeGo - Nokia N9"

It's probably for situations like displaying tweets on a wall or something

Pretty sweet find! Thanks for sharing!

Well thats neat! Thanks for sharing!

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact