Learning Search

Handy Tool for Reading Twitter Threads: Thread Reader

While there’s a lot of bad on Twitter, there’s a lot of good too – good resources, good discussions, and good people I doubt I would have found or connected with otherwise. I spend a fair amount of time there.

But one thing that doesn’t thrill me about Twitter is its UI. Even using TweetDeck, doing really basic things on Twitter can be a pain. Things like reading threaded tweets, for example. I’ll have to open someone’s Twitter page, or start a new TweetDeck column just for them and scroll backwards, etc. It’s annoying.

But last week I found a tool that makes reading Twitter threads a LOT easier. It’s called, appropriately enough, Thread Reader, and it’s available at  https://tttthreads.com/ .

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This tool is super easy to use, but first you have to find Twitter threads.

What the Heck is a Twitter Thread?

A Twitter thread is a series of tweets that are meant to be read all at the same time. Sometimes they’re called tweetstorms, though that can refer more to a bunch of tweets that are posted at the same time and are somewhat related, but don’t require reading in succession to be comprehensible. Politico has an overview of Twitter threads and their rising popularity.

Finding Twitter Threads

I follow a lot of people on Twitter and threads pop up naturally and constantly. But if you’re not that into Twitter, you can also find threads by searching Twitter for the hashtag #thread. You can try #TwitterThread, too, but that will get you far fewer results. (Remember, most people on Twitter still have a 140-character limit, so hashtags generally aren’t large.) Add a keyword for the topic in which you’re interested (start by being general – remember, you’re searching in 140-character tweets!) and you should be off to the races. Let’s try #thread health:

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That worked pretty well, but you see how this one screenshot has threads from October 18, 17, and 16? You might have to do several search variations to get a thread that grabs your interest. In this case I want to see why Sharifah Arfah doesn’t intend to gain any weight back after Ramadan.

Using Thread Reader

Click on the date beside the tweet in which you’re interested. In this case it takes me to https://twitter.com/sharifaharfah/status/920209739006459905 .

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Looking at this thread, it’s short enough to read without using a third-party tool, but let’s proceed anyway.

Take that Tweet URL and enter it in the top form at Thread Reader. If the thread is not too old (I’m not sure precisely what that means, but threads from early 2016 did not work) it’ll grab all the tweets in the thread and turn it into an easily-readable Web page, as here:

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Underneath that, you’ll also get links to possibly related threads.

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This was a fairly short thread; does Thread Reader work as well with a long thread with attachments and so forth? Check out Thread Reader’s work on a 20-tweet thread from Jo Maugham with lots of images:

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Yeah, it does! Looks very readable.

Once you have the thread in a more readable format, you can do a number of things, including embedding it or tweeting out the page.

Protip: don’t want to go to the Thread Reader page to thread something? You can reply to any tweet with @tttthreads and the word unroll and Thread Reader will thread it for you. As with the Web page, if you try this with a thread that’s too old it won’t work. After a few moments Thread Reader will tweet you with a link to your thread page.

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You may have noticed that this tool does not take Twitter threads and make them easier to use on Twitter – instead it gathers the threads and puts them on a separate page. But what if you don’t want your Twitter threads used in this way?

Thread Reader has only one FAQ and it addresses this very question. I’ll copy and paste what it says at this writing:

We know this is the most important question so it is here in the first position. Tttthreads is a free service here to help people read threads with ease, we are not here to steal anyone’s content. So the process to remove and block Tttthreads is very easy and strait forward, you only have to mention the bot @tttthreads with the keyword: “block me” using the account you want to be removed from the site. That would be: “@tttthreads block me” That’s it. Blocking will take a minute, it is for all your past and futur content.

If you don’t want your threaded content to end up on Thread Reader, it’s very easy to remove, and furthermore, to block Thread Reader from ever putting your threaded content on its site.

It’s a rare day that I don’t find at least a couple of interesting threads to read on Twitter. Thread Reader will make it a lot easier for me to peruse them.

Do you have any favorite tools for reading Twitter threads or doing other Twitter tasks? Leave me a comment!

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