March 20, 2012

Facebook’s (In)conspicuous Absence From the Do Not Track Discussions

On the heels of President Obama's recent introduction of a Privacy Bill of Rights, the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), the latest self-regulatory organization for online advertising, agreed to support widespread implementation of Do Not Track (DNT) browser headers. This is a laudable step, and in the coming months the responsibilities for how websites respond to the signal will be articulated in multistakeholder meetings through the W3C's Tracking Protection Working Group . One conspicuous absence from the Do Not Track discussions is Facebook. As a company that tracks millions of users around the web, Facebook needs to follow in the footsteps of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and others by committing to respect user choice.

There is no denying Facebook's popularity in the online arena. It is consistently ranked in the top five websites visited in the world. In the month of December 2011 alone, users spent more than 9.7 billion minutes per day on Facebook on personal computers, while in the mobile sphere the Facebook app is one of the most downloaded applications across the smartphone ecosystem.1 Facebook is apt to translate this popularity into effective advertising, which is fundamental to its revenue stream. Facebook said as much in its IPO documents, where it stated: "We generate substantially all of our revenue from advertising and payment processing fees."2 Facebook also provided explicit figures. In 2011, they made $3.15 billion of $3.71 billion solely from advertising.3 In combination with Facebook's dominance in social media and its engagement with both Facebook and non-Facebook users outside of, Facebook's reliance on advertising as a major revenue stream is a reason that Facebook should be involved in current W3C discussions about the future of online advertising.

Facebook has a complex relationship with userssometimes it acts like a social network, but other times it acts more like an online tracking company. This tracking takes place without a user ever having to interact with the Facebook "like" or "social plugin" buttons: just seeing the "like" button is enough for Facebook to collect a record of your reading habits. It was third party tracking practices similar to this that inspired the Do Not Track movement. Like other companies that engage in cross-site tracking, Facebook needs to commit to respecting the Do Not Track header.

Facebook's interaction with users is further complicated by Instant Personalization , a system that allows non-Facebook sites to embed interactive Facebook widgets and conversations. Instant Personalization inherently requires tracking. When an individual has "instant personalization" enabled in her Facebook settings and then sets the Do Not Track header, we recommend that Facebook clarify whether or not she is agreeing to opt back in to being tracked while using instant personalization. This could be done with an interstitial explaining the tracking inherent to instant personalization and asking her whether, given her preference to not be tracked, she would still like to see and use instant personalization widgets. This type of transparent privacy control can ensure that Facebook users better understand how Facebook collects data on them. These complications are all reasons for Facebook to further engage in Do Not Track discussions and the Do Not Track mechanism.

It's clear that Facebook wants to be a part of the conversation around advertising and privacy. According to AdAge , when the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act (PDF) was introduced last year, Facebook sent an “army of lawyers” to Washington to convince Senators Kerry and McCain to carve out exceptions to their privacy bill so that Facebook could track its users via social widgets on other sites (dubbed the "Facebook loophole" ). Facebook currently retains two lobbying firms, and it nearly quadrupled its lobbying budget last year to $1.35 million.4 The best Internet policy arises from collaborative efforts with users, advocacy groups, and other technology companiesnot backroom deals on Capitol Hill. This is especially true when many policymakers and the public are watching online advertisers closely to see if they can improve their poor track record when it comes to self-regulation.

Currently, the W3C's Tracking Protection Working Group involves stakeholders that include privacy organizations, tracking companies, the DAA, and academics to refine what Do Not Track means and how it is implemented. Facebook's prominence in the online advertising world, its reliance on advertising as a revenue model, and its activity in Washington make it clear that Facebook should be more involved in the negotiations on advertisers' responsibilities to respect Do Not Track.

After a privacy agreement was reached with the FTC in November 2011, Mark Zuckerburg wrote : "I'm committed to making Facebook the leader in transparency and control around privacy." Do Not Track is the next step for users to control how they can be tracked and what data can be collected. It's time Facebook engage with the larger Internet community and respect the rights of users who opt out of tracking.

  • 1. Data found in Facebook's IPO documents. Documents can be found here .
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Data courtesy of the Center for Responsive Politics' Open Secrets. Facebook's lobbying stats can be found here .

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August 4, 2011

7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out

In the last Tech Tip we touched on the differences between Facebook profile pages and Facebook “fan” pages. One major difference between the two is that you are limited to one personal profile but can have unlimited “fan” pages. Also, there is a limit of 5,000 friends (rumor is that this will be decreasing) on your profile page but there is no limit to the number of “likes” you can have. So If you’re looking to market yourself or your company on Facebook you’ll need a fan page.

This Tech Tip will address creating a page and maximizing all you can do to brand awareness, drive traffic and increase sales.7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out –

To start your page, if you’re logged in, scroll down to the footer on Facebook and click on Create A Page or you can go directly here:

Note: It is not a requirement to have a profile in order to create a business page. This is usually tied to placing a Facebook ad. But remember, Facebook is a “social” network so best practices is to have a profile.

Choose the category that best fits what you want to promote. (If you choose Local Business/ Place, that will create a Facebook Places page that we discussed in the previous Tech Tip.) Name your page, agree to the Facebook terms and Get Started. You can edit the info for your business, add an image (we’ll talk more about that in a minute) and find lots of ways to promote your new page.

You’ll notice that your new page has a very long URL such as:

Once you have 25 LIKES for your page you will be able to go in and edit that URL at and select something easier to remember.

7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out – Geeks.comTIP ALERT: Be laser specific in choosing the right name for your niche. Do it wisely, with search engine optimization in mind, as you’re locked in once you make your choice. You will, however, be able to change the name as it appears on the page just by going to Edit Page and then Basic Information. Once you reach 100 LIKES however, you will not be able to change it.

Since this is primarily a “business” page you may want (and highly recommended) to have someone else also administer or manage your Page, especially if you hire a Social Media Manager. Go to Edit Page and then Manage Admins and add the new name. Manage Permissions will allow you to hide the Page until you are ready to launch and set other parameters. This is also where you will choose what landing page you want new visitors to see. You want to encourage interaction so don’t be too restrictive.

7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out – Geeks.comGoing forward you will be able to access your Page by clicking on the link in the left hand nav. If you only have one page you’ll see a flag followed by the page name. If you have more than one page you’ll see the flag followed by Pages.

Images and Landing Page

7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out –

Make the most of the Profile Picture real estate to promote yourself. It’s 540 pixels high and 180 pixels wide so do include your business URL, if you have one, and whatever you would use for your elevator pitch. You can also utilize the Photostrip banner images that we talked about last time. The only difference between the Profile Banner and Page Banner is the pictures are not static on the Page and will rotate. You’d think it would be the other way around and maybe one day Facebook will give you the option. You can create 97×68 thumbnails or how about creating a landing page/ad to promote your business.

To do this, start by making an image 720px by 720px and place the image that you want to appear in the thumbnail in an area 534px by 374px.The measurement of the “thumbnail area’” is the same 97×68 ratio that Facebook will shrink it to, and a location of 89px down and 94px in should do the trick. Adjust as needed.

7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out – Geeks.comYou can go bigger or stick to the 97×68 ratio for the whole image but you’ll need to figure out where the thumbnail area needs to go. The 720 x 720 should work just fine.

Using the larger size allows you to add text to your image, a call to action, URL address or whatever you like – a sales page, info page etc.This may be out of reach for some novices but you can always have someone else create the image for you like, Elance or

7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out – Geeks.comNow that you have the images ready for your Photostrip, you’ll need to upload them and turn them into landing pages/ads. Just click on Photos in the left side bar of your Fan Page and then the +Upload Photos link. Upload your images and name the album. Once you’ve done that you can then enter a description for each one in the Description field – you can always change the description later.

You could say something like “Click here to get my free eBook of tips and tricks” followed by a link to the destination page on your web site where they can sign up for the eBook.

Publish the images. When a visitor clicks on one, it will expand to full size in the photo viewer and your relevant hyperlink will be underneath in the description field. It’s a good idea to upload the images one at a time over a few days. That way every time that you upload a new image, it will appear in your fans’ Newsfeeds with the description and link. Finally, remember that Facebook will display them randomly so be consistent with the overall look and feel of your Page.

Who Am I

7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out – Geeks.comEarlier this year, Facebook started to allow you to post on other Pages as your Page. To assume the identity of your Page, look in the right hand nav bar under Admins and you’ll see Use Facebook As ‘PageName’, click on that and you have a new Facebook Identity. You can toggle back and forth. You cannot “friend” a person as a Page, you can only LIKE and post on other Pages. This is a handy tool to help with your branding.


7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out – Geeks.comIf you’ve promoted your business online, you should be familiar with Google Analytics or other analytics packages. Facebook does a great job of providing you with its own analytics tool called Insights. Again, under that right hand nav, you’ll see View Insights. This will take you to the Insights page where you can review your Page stats, see viewer demographics (click See Details after Users) and Interactions.

Edgier the Better

As discussed previously, Facebook just doesn't serve up everything your friends post to their Wall. They have their own algorithm, much like the search engines, to determine the content you see. Similar to Google’s Page Rank, this is called Edge Rank. (An Edge is any object that appears in a Newsfeed.) It’s based on 3 key factors:

AFFINITY – how often you and your friend/fan interact

WEIGHT -whether your content has been liked, commented on or shared. Weight increases in that order: like, comment, share.

TIME DELAY – the older the object is, the less important it is.

TAKEAWAY: Post often and encourage people to respond. To increase traffic to your page, spend 20-30 minutes a day on Facebook. Fifty percent of that time should be on your page adding content, commenting on content/comments, sharing others’ content, tweaking it etc. Encourage people to respond to your content by posing a question or use the Poll feature. Spend the remaining 50% on other people’s Pages – sharing, commenting and liking.

One trick is to click the “Share” link under a Newsfeed story, click on the down arrow next to “On Your Own Wall”. Four additional options will appear including posting to Groups and on your Page.

Note: If there is no content in the post, the “share” option will not appear.

You can’t buy attention anymore. It used to be “pay to play” now it’s “play to play”. You have to interact and engage with your audience.

IFrame It

One of the main reasons businesses are now flocking to Facebook is the introduction of iFrames back in March 2011. 7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out – Geeks.comPrior to that, the only way you could pimp out your page was to use their limited proprietary application Static FBML. Now thanks to iFrames you can build your own web site right there within Facebook. Your Page can incorporate video, opt-in script, whatever you can create in HTML and import into the iFrame. You’re still limited to the 520px width for your content. No restriction on length.

This opens up the ability to create tabs the way you want them. You can create a Welcome tab that visitors see before clicking the LIKE button. I’m sure you’ve seen them. Would you like to create your own tab? Let’s take the mystery out of creating an app.

An App A Day

First, assuming you have your own web site or landing page: go to click Apps in the top bar, then +Create New App, jump through their security hoops and give your app a name such as “Welcome”. Fill in the captcha. Then you will be on the Basic Info page. Click On Facebook in the left hand nav. Don’t get overwhelmed, you only have to fill in three of the fields:

1. Canvas URL is the URL of the web site you want to appear in the 520px area. Enter it there with a forward slash at the end

2. Tab Name – Welcome

3. Tab URL – same as the Canvas URL without the forward slash

7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out –

Save Changes, then click on View App Profile Page in the left hand nav. This will bring up your App page and click on Add to Page in the left hand nav. If you have more than one Page, choose the one you want your tab to appear on. Done. Now go to your Page and you should see your new Tab there. Look ma, I created an app! But for those of you who feel this is a bit adventurous, there are plenty of ready-to-go apps like or Lujure.

To make your new tab specific for first time visitors, go to Edit Page, click on Manage Permissions, then the drop down menu for Default Landing Tab and choose (in our example) Welcome. Now your new visitors will see that tab first. After they LIKE your page, they’ll only see your Wall.

As you can see the possibilities are endless with creating your own apps.

If you create your own HTML landing page, remember to stay within the 520px width limit. If you don’t have your own web site or landing page, you can try out these templates: Chris Farrell iFrame Templates. They are plenty of free hosting sites, just ask the Google.

Wrap Up

As we talked about last time, Facebook is constantly in motion. There’s talk of significant changes to the “Page” coming soon. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg announced on July 6, 2011, not only are they rolling out the video chat but that there will be lots of changes to Facebook in the coming weeks and months.

If you would like to learn more about Facebook, I highly recommend these sites: allfacebook, and (scroll down for free Recorded Webinars with excellent tips on how to drive traffic to your Facebook page) and SocialMediaExaminer.


7 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page Stand Out –

If you want to stay on top of the most current Facebook scams, LIKE the Facecrooks page.

Yes, Facebook can be wonky and a bit buggy so LIKE this page Known Issues on Facebook.

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July 25, 2011

Trillian – version 5

Click here to download Trillian v5.x!

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July 3, 2011

9 Must-Know Facebook Tips

“…This means a search of what you’ve said or posted on Facebook/Twitter/Flickr/blogs etc., “may” become a standard part of job application background checks.”

Facebook 101

Tech Tips first reviewed Facebook back in 2009 . At that time there were “only” 200 million Facebook users and was pretty straight forward in terms of a social media tool. Fast forward two years and we find that Facebook has grown to 700 million users worldwide, is a major Internet player about to go IPO, host to a Presidential Town Hall Meeting and an instigating factor in the Spring Uprisings in Tunisia and the Middle East. Its impact on the world stage cannot be denied. It has saved lives of those who posted medical emergencies, alerted to potential suicides, rallied around animal causes, charitable issues. And yes, there’s even been the criminal posting his stand-off with a SWAT Team as it unfolds.9 Must-Know Facebook Tips –

In fact, it has become so ubiquitous that you cannot read any magazine, visit any web site or watch any commercial without seeing the Facebook logo in some form. That’s a long, long way from the little web site initially conceived in a college dorm room for geeky guys to rate their female classmates.

Most Recent/Top News

9 Must-Know Facebook Tips – Geeks.comSo you think you’re hot stuff because you have 4,396 “friends”. Wow, your news is reaching a lot of people. Not. Facebook doesn’t necessarily serve up everything you post to everyone on your friends list. In the top right hand corner of your News Feed you’ll see Top News/Most Recent. The default is Top News.

Using its own blend of secret sauce, Facebook serves up what it determines is most noteworthy for you to view – which friends are indeed the most engaged with you and Facebook in general. If they post quite often, “like” things and share, chances are you’ll be seeing them in your feed. If you want to be seen, interact and engage with your Facebook community. We’ll uncover more about this secret sauce in the next Tech Tip.

If you’d like to see everything that is being posted by your friends, then click the Most Recent tab. To have some control over what appears, click the drop down tab there and you’ll be able to select from Status Updates, Pages, Photos, Links and more. The Edit Options link will let you choose who you’d like (or not like) to see posts from.

Pro Tip:

9 Must-Know Facebook Tips –
Another way to pare down what you see is to organize your friends into Lists which is one of the options on that drop down menu. Start by going to Click create a List and add the friends you want to group. If you then go to Edit My Profile and click on Featured People. Under Featured Friends you can now add the group or list you just created. Save your changes and return to your profile. You’ll see your Lists on the left hand nav bar for easy access.


In addition to tagging people in photos, you can tag your friends or pages that you follow in your status updates. The great thing about this is that your status post will then appear on the Wall of that person or page. It used to require first using the @ sign, as in Twitter, to tag someone else. Facebook will now intuitively offer suggestions for you to choose from. 9 Must-Know Facebook Tips – Geeks.comIf that doesn’t happen, you can still access the list by using the @ symbol. Once you’ve made your choice the name will be highlighted and hyperlinked to their Facebook profile or page. If you don’t want to show the person’s full name, you can always delete the last name and the hyperlink will remain.

One new controversial Facebook tool is facial recognition in photos. This simplifies the somewhat tedious tagging process that enables you to connect a face in a photo with an actual Facebook friend. Again, Facebook provides suggestions for individuals in photos for you to choose from.

9 Must-Know Facebook Tips – Geeks.comSome privacy advocates have concerns that this feature is enabled by default. here’s how you disable it:

1. Go to your privacy settings.
2. Click “Customize settings.”
3. Scroll down to “Things others share.”
4. Find “Suggest photos of me to friends.
5. Edit accordingly.

You do have the option of untagging photos you've been tagged in by going to the photo and then click your name. There is no option to prevent friends from tagging you in photos, but you can prevent others from seeing the photos via your tagged name by adjusting your privacy settings.

Banner Me Up

9 Must-Know Facebook Tips –
You’ll notice a row of 5 images at the top of your profile. They are 97×68 thumbnails of pictures that you’ve been tagged in. If there is an image that you don’t want displayed, simply hover over it until you see an ‘x” in the top right hand corner. Click the “x” and the image is hidden but not deleted. This feature allows you to control your “banner”, so to speak. You can create your own using Photoshop, Picnik or some other image editing software. You start with a 485 x 68 banner and divide it into five 97×68 images. You will then tag yourself in each image but the key to remember is that the last image tagged will show on the left hand side. There are apps out there to help you create something fun or representative of you such as Profile Banner or Banner Maker .

Facebook Places

9 Must-Know Facebook Tips – Geeks.comMuch like Yelp, Gowalla and Foursquare, Facebook Places lets you “check-in” to locations using a smartphone. You can tag yourself or other friends as well. We haven’t heard much about Facebook Places yet but stay tuned.

What’s Happening

Facebook is currently testing a new feature called the “Happening Now” feed on a very small percentage of Facebook users. It allows you to see what your friends are commenting on and “liking” in real time. Facebook has a habit of rolling out new features with no warning, so you never know what you might see when you log in. Rumor has it that Happening Now is going to replace the Most Recent tab we discussed earlier. Some changes aren’t always well accepted but let’s face it, it’s free and Mark Zuckerberg can do whatever he wants.

Secure Connection

9 Must-Know Facebook Tips – Geeks.comIt’s a little known fact but Facebook does offer secure browsing (https) as an opt-in feature. When you enable this, all of your activity on Facebook becomes encrypted, making it harder for anyone else to access your information without your permission. (Not yet an option for mobile) The only possible downside is that this feature MAY impede your ability to access iframe content on Facebook pages. Turn on secure browsing by going to your Account Settings page.Click the "Change" link next to Account Security, check the box under "Secure Browsing (https)" and then click the "Save" button.


No matter what your privacy settings, as recent news events have demonstrated, what’s posted on Facebook doesn’t stay on Facebook. Exercise some caution and good judgement. If you have second thoughts and want to cancel a post, or if you “drunk posted”, you can delete it by hovering over your comment and clicking the “x” in the top right hand corner. The movie was called “Social Network” for a reason, it allows you to share just about anything and everything within your community. It’s your responsibility to oversee what limits you want to place on that sharing of information. If you don’t want Facebook to share your phone number or home address, then don’t give it to them. There’s no requirement for such personal data to have a Facebook profile. Do yourself a favor and periodically review your privacy settings to make sure they are in alignment with your comfort zone for sharing.

The Job You Save May Be Your Own

9 Must-Know Facebook Tips – Geeks.comSecurity and Privacy take on a whole new meaning when you learn, as reported by Forbes, that in June 2011 the Federal Trade Commission gave its stamp of approval to a background check company that screens job applicants based on their Internet photos and posts.The FTC determined that Social Intelligence Corp. was indeed Fair Credit Reporting Act compliant.This means a search of what you’ve said or posted on Facebook/Twitter/Flickr/blogs etc., may become a standard part of job application background checks.

If that doesn’t make you reconsider posting those f-bombs, bong pictures and semi-nude images, I don’t know what will.

You’ve Got A Friend and a Friend and a Friend…

9 Must-Know Facebook Tips –
Let’s say you’ve maxed out at the 5,000 friends that Facebook allows you to have. Do you really know that many people? There are instances of Facebook cutting you off even before you hit the magic number. Once you’re done, you’re done. No amount of deleting “friends” will free up space for new people. So choose wisely when accepting that next friend invitation.

If you’re really using Facebook to promote yourself or your business then you should consider setting up a Facebook page where you can have an unlimited number of fans.

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November 4, 2009

Four Apps to Take Your Tweeting to the Next Level

Techtips 234

Four Apps to Take Your Tweeting to the Next Level

By Scott Nesbitt – September 13, 2009

There's no doubt that Twitter has become a major player in the world of social media. In fact, it's pretty find viagra much at the top of the heap of the various microblogging services available on the Web.

And with good reason: Twitter is easy to use and the breadth and depth of posts is something to see.

For a power user (or a power user wannabe), the Twitter Web interface leaves a bit to be desired. It's fine for reading and posting messages (called tweets in Twitter-speak). But the interface is lacking in a lot of ways. If you PullQuote want to, for example, send a message to another Twitter user or retweet (repost an interesting message), then you have to remember a keyboard command and/or do some copying and pasting.  Why do that, when you can use graphical tool that gives you point-and-click access to all the Twitter functions you need? And a few more to boot. There a number of desktop clients for Twitter, and a few Web-based ones too.

This TechTip looks at four of the more interesting Twitter clients out there. All of them are free, and they work on computers that run Linux, Mac OS, and Windows.

Going minimal with Qwit

While somewhat barebones, Qwit (an Open Source Twitter client) fills in a lot of the gaps of Twitter's Web interface. And it's easy to use.  Qwit has a tabbed interface that seems to be popular with desktop Twitter clients, and other kinds of desktop apps too. There are seven, to be exact – for updates that you and the people you follow have posted, for messages that you've sent and have been sent to you, to do a search, and one tab each for all new posts to the service and for specific Twitter feeds that you want to pay particular attention to.

While I'd like to get rid of a couple of the tabs, there isn't a way to do that. A minor annoyance.

But the real flexibility is on Qwit's Home tab. That's where you view your posts and the posts of those you're following. You can type an update at the top of the Qwit window, and you can even attach a photo to a tweet. The photo doesn't go to Twitter; it's uploaded to a site called TwitPic and linked to your tweet. On top of that, long URLs are automatically shortened.

Every update on the Home tab has three additional buttons which allow you to reply to a tweet, repost it, and to send the poster a private message.  It's a lot easier than remembering keyboard commands.

Giving twhirl a whirl

You might remember a TechTip that looked at a technology called Adobe AIR. One of the great things about AIR is that it make it easy for developers to create software that interacts with Web applications. Twitter is no exception.

twhirl is one of the first truly cross-platform AIR apps that I've used. Other applications, either Twitter clients or apps in various other categories, either didn't work under Linux or were sluggish.

With twhirl, you can post, reply, retweet, and send direct messages all by clicking on an icon on the toolbar at the bottom of the twhirl window. You can view the people you follow and who follow you, and search for specific Twitter users. You'll need to know their Twitter user name, though.

As well, twhirl shortens URLs with a click – that's great for posting a long link that cuts into Twitter's 140 character limit. As with Qwit, you can share photos in a tweet by uploading them to TwitPic from within the app.

My only gripe with twhirl is that its interface takes some getting used to. It's obvious what some of the icons in the twhirl window do. Others you're not so sure about until you click them. I'd also like URL shortening to be automatic, but clicking a button to do the deed isn't all that onerous a task.

Don't tweet, twait instead

Twaitter is one of the growing number of Web-based Twitter clients. But Twaitter goes further than other desktop and online Twitter clients with a few features that power user and businesses will find useful.

Like any other Twitter client, Twaitter enables you to read and view tweets, send replies, retweet messages, and view and send private messages to other Twitter users. You simply go and log in using your Twitter user name and password.

But Twaitter has one feature that's sets it apart from all other clients. That feature is the ability to schedule tweets. Using Twaitter, you can write tweets ahead of time and let them appear on Twitter at specific times and dates. This is useful if, for example, you're doing a marketing promotion and want to leak details on to Twitter without it seeming like you're spamming.

To use Twaitter, all you need to do is type your tweet. Then, click the twait button. Choose the time and date one which you want the tweet to appear and then click the Schedule button. You can also tell Twaitter whether you want the tweet to only appear once, or if it’s going to recurring at regular intervals.

One useful feature of Twaitter is that ability to edit a tweet. Even the best of us succumb to the typo bug. If you've entered a tweet in Twaitter, you quickly fix a typo or an error. To do that in Twitter's Web interface, you need to delete the tweet and then resend it.

If you don't want to worry about fiddling with a browser to get to Twaitter, you can always bring Twaitter to your desktop using Prism (software that creates desktop shortcuts for opening Web applications in their own windows).

Add TwitterFox to your browser

As long as that browser's Firefox. Why install yet another piece of software on your computer when you can make Twitter a part of your browsing experience? That's what TwitterFox does.

It's an add-on for Firefox, the popular Open Source browser. While Qwit is fairly bare bones, TwitterFox is downright minimalist. After installing and configuring TwitterFox, an icon (the stylized Twitter t) appears in the lower-right corner of the Firefox interface. When updates from the people you follow are available, the icon displays how many updates there are. Click the icon to open the TwitterFox window.

The TwitterFox window contains three tabs. The main one lists all updates that you and the people you follow have posted recently. The other tabs list any messages in which you're mentioned (what Twitter calls @mentions) and private messages that you've sent or received. There's also a small area at the bottom of the window for entering a tweet.

TwitterFox is easy to use, but not always intuitive. A part of that comes from its minimalism. If you want to reply to a tweet, you must hold your mouse over the tweet. A curved arrow appears. Click the arrow, and go from there. On top of that, there's no button for retweeting a post. Instead, you right click a tweet and choose Retweet from the menu that appears. That right-click menu, by the way, also enables you to copy tweets and to delete any of your own tweets.

The integration with Firefox goes a little further than TwitterFox simply being spawned from the browser. In the bottom left of the TwitterFox window is an icon that looks like a bit of chain. Click that to include the URL of current tab in a tweet. If, with the URL, the tweet is over the 140 charactewitterr limit, TFox will shorten the URL using the popular TinyURL service.


Good desktop (or even Web-based) Twitter clients give you a lot of flexibility and a number of features that are just not found at the Twitter site. They make tweeting faster and easier.

Do you have a favorite desktop Twitter client? Share it with the TechTips reader community by leaving a comment.

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