PR COG'S GEAR GRINDINGS

May 5, 2010

Embedded Tweets Verdict: MassiveFail

Filed under: Uncategorized — prcog @ 11:06 am

Hate to say this but I’m highly disappointed in the embedded tweets system (y’all know I love twitter).

I quote tweets not infrequently and doing screenshots has definitely been a pain in the ass (until I found Screenhunter that is — see post here on that cute lil program).

Here’s what I’d want from an embeddable tweet system:

  • Dead simple
  • Bulletproof (works on all systems)
  • Accurate
  • Secure (forgery resistant and unable to be deleted (because really – if I’m embedding a tweet – it’s going to be juicy)

Let’s run through these real quick –

Dead Simple

Not yet it’s not – get the tweet’s individual ink, head over to the Blackbird Pie site, paste, take your code, go over to your favorite platform, paste and hope it looks good.  2 words: Push Button.  It should be as simple as sending a tweet.  I’m sure this’ll change as developers start tinkering with the API, but for now it’s yet another browser tab I need open.

Bulletproof

Heck no.

Sample embedded tweet on a WordPress page (it could just be my theme, but if it is, then it’s likely going to happen elsewhere as well)

Accurate

The above tweet was sent out late last (Tuesday) night or in the wee hours Wednesday morning, not “less than a minute ago.”  If the time provided just references the amount of time elapsed from the tweet to when the embed code was created it’s pretty much useless as a reference point.  This may change for older tweets that go beyond the ‘4 (?) days ago’ status, but if you’re trying to embed a tweet, who’s coming back to it then?

Secure

No and Yes.

BIG NO though – The tweet text is just hidden in the code (I was hoping for something fancier referencing back to Twitter’s dbase so the tweet would stay ‘pure’ though this would likely melt Twitter’s servers eventually.

Here’s the thing – if you can just tinker with the text then I might as well have been copying and pasting text for the last few years into my system – we’re looking for truly embedded – like YouTube embedded, so when the source content changes the result on the other pages changes (or gets deleted).

So not only is it possible to forge a tweet (and really, on the net if it looks right it must be accurate, right? (and if you don’t think people are that gullible consider how many bad phishing emails have resulted in bank account hacks)).

Consider that in about 20 seconds, using the embeddable tweet code from the above example to create:

I never wrote this tweet — ignore me.less than a minute ago via web

[On a non-blog platform this does look like a proper embedded tweet (back to the bullet proof problem.)]

Of course this also means you can make tweets appear to have over 140 characters (and as I’ve just discovered, totally hack the code to throw in basic html (at the very least).  I wonder if we can embed flash into an embedded tweet, wow) — check it out.

As far as unable to be deleted – yes – that works – because it doesn’t reference to the original tweet.

So for me — it’s still all about the screenshot – quick, simple, accurate, no reliance on an outside server, as forever as I want it to be (and really – still faster).

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