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I follow a corporate account that uses that channel to reply to users of their products.

Sometimes they reply to some user I am not following, and I see that tweet in my timeline, there is no space or any other character before the @ symbol, so I shouldn't be seeing it.


Does anybody know if this is a bug in twitter, a known issue, or a trick used by that account to make their tweets more visible?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Because the tweet in your example is not a reply (note that it doesn't show the tweet they're replying to). A tweet is considered a reply when you click the "reply" function in the website or a Twitter client. This sets the in_reply_to_status_id parameter of the tweet, which is how Twitter knows it's a reply to a specific tweet. If you simply begin typing, even if there's a @username right at the start, the in_reply_to_status_id parameter is not set, so Twitter doesn't consider it a reply and people who follow you will see the tweet even if they don't follow @username.

I hope that clears things up.

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Really? Where can you see the parameters of the tweet? – juan Oct 26 '10 at 18:55
You'd have to check out the XML or JSON representations of the tweet through the Twitter API, e.g. dev.twitter.com/doc/get/statuses/show/:id – Guillermo Esteves Oct 26 '10 at 19:01
The Twitter API Console is a good way of checking out what the different methods do, but you'll need some programming knowledge to use it: dev.twitter.com/console – Guillermo Esteves Oct 26 '10 at 19:01
So, if I start typing a tweet, and in the middle I hit the reply button to add the username, that counts as a reply too and nobody will see it in the timeline? (Eg:"Check out this link from [click reply on tweetdeck @zzzz") – juan Oct 27 '10 at 20:22
I don't know, it depends on the client, I guess. In the ones I use (Itsy, Twitter for iPad), if you start typing and then click reply, it starts a new tweet and you lose what you typed before. But if you click reply, then type some stuff before the @username, I think it still works like a regular reply, i.e. only the people who follow @username will see it. I'm not 100% sure, though. – Guillermo Esteves Oct 28 '10 at 1:06

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