October 11, 2007

Twittering without access to Twitter.com

Big companies (and sometimes also smaller companies) have often decided that instant messaging and social networking sites are keeping their employees from the actual work. Hence, they have chosen to block internet access to these instant messaging and social networking sites. As Twitter becomes more popular, Twitter is often also blocked in these companies. What are your options to keep in touch with your Twitter friends during office hours if direct internet access to Twitter.com is blocked ?

There are different Twitter client programs available, but if an employer blocks internet access to specific sites, it is very likely that employees do not have the possiblity to install software on their computers on their own initiative. So I did not take these programs further into account as possible bypasses.

Option 1 : Use your mobile phone to receive and send Twitter messages as text messages (SMS)

  • If you are following several Twitter users with a high post volume, your mobile phone will continuously receive new messages. Its capacity of storing text messages will soon be reached.
  • Following hyperlinks in text messages is not easy, you have to retype the whole URL in your browser.
  • If the mobile phone you are using is a company phone will your employer accept this usage of the mobile phone ?

Option 2 : Switch to a mobile phone capable of mobile surfing
  • The size of the screen is rather small.
  • Expensive if you have to pay for such a mobile phone yourself.

Option 3 : Subscribe to the RSS-feed "with friends" from your Twitter account in your favorite web based feedreader such as Bloglines or Google Reader
  • A web based feedreader does not check every minute if there are updates, so messages are often delayed.
  • Messages from private Twitter accounts are not visible in the RSS-feed.
  • You can only read Twitter messages, you cannot send Twitter messages.
  • This is only possible if direct internet access to these web based feedreaders is not blocked.

Option 4 : Twitter Digest : Twitter Digest generates a daily digest of all Twitter messages of the Twitter accounts you supplied, either on a web page or thru an RSS feed
  • You have to enter manually all twitter accounts in Twitter Digest you are following and you have to keep this list in sync with the actual list on the Twitter platform.
  • Messages from private Twitter accounts are not visible in the RSS-feed.
  • You can only read Twitter messages, you cannot send Twitter messages.
  • This is only possible if direct internet access to Twitter Digest is not blocked.

Option 5 : There are several sites that allow you to post Twitter message on your account by sending them an email
Examples of these services are EmailTwitter, Mail2Twitter and TwitterMail.
  • In quite of lot of companies the email system automatically adds a footer to each outgoing email message. Would you like this footer to appear on each of your Twitter messages ?
  • Do you trust these services by providing them with your Twitter id and password, either by sending these by email with each message you want to post (Mail2Twitter) or by registering on their website (TwitterMail) ?
  • Does the email policy at your employer allows you to send this kind of messages thru your corporate email account ?

If your employer has chosen to block Twitter's website, I am not sure that your employer will appreciate that you apply some or all tips described in this post. If you really want to stay in touch with your Twitter friends during office hours, look for another employer.


Pascal Van Hecke said...

- add twitter@twitter.com as a contact in Google Talk (in the Google talk client or the webbased version built in in Gmail) - see how IMBob does it
- add twitter@twitter.com as a contact in any jabber client - works the same as with Google talk (Google Talk is just a special case)
The commands on, off, get, follow etc... are basically the same as on a phone.

bvlg said...

Pascal, thanks for the tips

In big companies access to webmail services is also often blocked ...

Pascal Van Hecke said...

Then you'd need to use a web interface for a jabber account.
But I don't know of any free hosts, and hosting it yourself is a bit far-fetched.

Johan Myrberger said...

In the first option you state that you can't easily click on a URL in an SMS.
I do this all the time and it works perfect, thus I believe this is probably depending on what phone you have. On what phone models have you noticed that this doesn't work?

tim said...

you can also use FRING.COM's free mVoIP on your smartphone (mainly Symbian models supported) to get access to Twitter. Especially important for mobile twitter users outside of the USA, twitter generally doesn't support non-US telcos for SMS service.