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Is it possible to follow someone on Twitter without them knowing?

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I would have said a definite "no", but I've had people (bots?) turn up on my followers list without getting an e-mail so either a) some e-mails aren't getting through or b) yes there is. – ChrisF Jul 2 '10 at 15:28
+1 Great question. I haven't ever really used Twitter until recently decided to follow one of the hosts of a favorite tech vidcast and I've been getting random follow requests from bots ever since. – Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 2:05
up vote 72 down vote accepted

If you use a feed reader such as Google Reader, you can subscribe to the RSS feed of the twitter user you want to "follow". Basically, it'll be like visiting their Twitter page, but you won't show up as a "follower" on Twitter.

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This only works when the person you're trying to follow hasn't protected their updates. If they have (and you can program), you could write a simple bot to follow them (under some pretend name) and send you updates. – rbp Sep 30 '10 at 20:00
Wow. I never thought of that. +1 from me. I'd give more if I could. – Robert Koritnik Oct 5 '10 at 12:47
This is no longer available since Twitter depreciated unauthenticated RSS feeds. – Dmitry Selitskiy Jun 26 '11 at 3:02

Put them on a private list. You can then just visit the list to see their tweets. You might want to also add the people you're actually following to that list and change your bookmark to point to it instead of Twitter's home page.

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They will appear on your list which is kind of like following them – Joe Philllips Jul 2 '10 at 20:06
@Joe Phillips can they see that when the list is private? – Michael Ekstrand Sep 30 '10 at 21:31
I do not think so. This answer may have been revised at some point – Joe Philllips Sep 30 '10 at 21:40
@Joe: Unlikely. The answer has never been edited and your comment was 5 hours after the answer was posted. ;-) – Tomalak Oct 1 '10 at 11:53

If the account is unprotected and you're using Firefox, there's a plugin called TweetStalk that lets you stalk users instead of following them.

Stalk some peeps

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You would have to do it manually (by going to their page and seeing what they post). You can't add their content to your homepage unless you follow them.

You could write an application that pulls your homepage content and mixes in their timeline content. You could also use a RSS reader to pull in multiple feeds (your homepage and their stream) into a single location.

Note: They will only be notified if they have notifications turned on, or they constantly monitor their list of followers to see if it is changing.

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You can also use sites such as http://myf5.com/ that provide you just that.

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Jared Hardley's suggestion (RSS) is the way to go (for non-protected accounts). If you want the person's tweets plus any replies (which you can get in RSS via a search), you can use this Yahoo Pipe I created that mixes both things up: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=a9379d57504827fc594e71daeb54dd60

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