It’s been so long since I’ve seen an ad on Twitter I had to ask my friend to send me a screenshot of one. Promoted tweets clog up your timelines and are largely unwanted, but not mine. Twitter stopped showing them to me about five months ago, a bit too long for an ad free AB test.

No promoted tweets in my main timeline.

See also Desktop October 2019, Mobile August 2019, Desktop August 2019. I still see promoted accounts in Trends, but no obtrusive advertisements in my timeline.

In 2017, I created a block list for 444 Fox News and Sinclair broadcasting stations and major personalities (learn more). And in early 2018, I began building an extensive block list of 16,400+ of Twitter’s corporate and business advertisers (learn more) and I shared it publicly.

I leverage my block list with BlockTogether, a wonderful free service which allows you to share a block list anyone you wish. It’s created and operated by @J4Cob, who also happens to work at EFF.

BlockTogether allows me to share the block lists with people like you. The advertiser and Fox News block lists are still active so feel free to go ahead and sign up using the above links.

Example of Promoted Tweet from My Friend

You’ll still see some ads, but very few from large corporations.

In August of 2018, inspired by my lists, Shannon Coulter and Grab Your Wallet used BlockTogether to kick conspiracy theorist and all around awful primate Alex Jones off of Twitter. Previously, Twitter CEO @Jack had resisted.

Twitter didn’t like the impacts on its advertising business. But so far it’s refused to try alternative business models which could start to shift it away from reliance on corporate money and pressure.

Soon after the Grab Your Wallet effort, Twitter limited the number of blocked users you could export to 500. Eventually, Twitter eliminated the ability to import and export lists altogether. Developers would have to use the Twitter API to obtain identities of blocked users.

Did Twitter do this because of our advertiser block lists? I don’t know.

It does appear though that Twitter turned off promoted tweets on my account so that I would not be able to block advertisers during my regular daily usage.

My Timeline in August 2019

I also saw that some right wingers didn’t like that occasional bots and trolls got caught up in my advertiser list. I really am concerned about this. I’ve recorded a personal message for them and there’s a Russian translation.

I am concerned over Twitter CEO Jack’s apparent alignment with the right wing, allowing Resident Donald Trump to violate Twitter rules and threaten congresswomen. I support efforts such as Mastodon to migrate us from a monolithic social timeline run by a corporation to a distributed public, open source service.

In the meantime, blocking advertisers is a great way to punish Twitter for its inaction on hate and blocking Fox News and Sinclair is a great way to prevent the limit the reach of their misinformation. And, these lists are a great way to clear up your timeline a bit.

Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest.

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