How Did They Know I Unfollowed Them On Twitter?

Ever unfollow someone on Twitter—then notice that they unfollowed you back? How did they notice you unfollowed them? Our Social Media Agony Aunt has answers.

I had the experience recently of unfollowing someone on Twitter. He has about 800 followers, is following 400. A few days later, he unfollowed me. (I've had this experience several times in the past as well, which is why I checked.) My question is this: how did he know it was me? Barring him visiting my profile and noticing specifically, which is always a possibility, is there a tool you can use that alerts you who unfollows you? Or do people like that keep a list and crosscheck every time they lose a follow? This is something I've been wondering about for a while... thanks for your time! - Amélie

Dear Amélie,

There are quite a tools that will help a user monitor who unfollows them on Twitter. Here are four I've tried, so I know they are reliable:

* Followerwonk
* Who Unfollowed Me
* Qwitter
* NutshellMail

For some people, Twitter is a place of enlightenment, where the joys, sorrows, and intelligence of the world arrive on our personal screens faster than seismic waves (literally), a place where we may even make meaningful professional connections who help us do our jobs better.

For other people, Twitter is simply another weapon in their selfishness arsenal, a place where relationships are only as valuable as the other person's ability to help them (or their career). I am being a little extreme, but only a little: case in point, #TeamFollowBack, the meaningless practice of promising to follow back all of one's followers.

I don't monitor my unfollows, so I don't unfollow people who unfollow me on Twitter—and probably wouldn't even if I knew they'd hit the unfollow button. I follow people because I find their tweets interesting or educational, not because I want them to follow me back and rack up my follower count. It turns out a great many people on Twitter share my approach:

That said, I suspect many people on Twitter who "unfollow back" did not want to out themselves to me in public, and that there are a many Tweeters who, as you have observed, engage in that practice. A few people did explain to me why they "unfollow back":

Okay, fair enough. I don't "courtesy follow" anyone, but I can imagine professional circumstances in which it's more awkward to not follow someone back—like a colleague, or a business contact—than it is to just follow them back out of politeness. I can also imagine circumstances under which one would not want to see one's ex's tweets in their stream:

Of course, unfollowing back because you realize the person who unfollowed you was annoying/mean/boring/overwhelming/offensive/etc, seems quite reasonable to me, as well:

Some people take unfollows personally, which leads to them unfollowing back. I don't think they should, but far be it from me to dismiss the legitimacy of another person's feelings:

It's worth noting that some people expect to be unfollowed back:

Nevertheless, take heed, Fast Company Twitterers: in general, your Agony Aunt finds the concept of serial unfollow back-ing silly and antithetical to the whole point and culture of the Twitterverse. Maybe it's like that saying, "An unfollow for an unfollow will make the whole world followerless." Or something like that.



P.S.: Whatever you do, don't do this (even though it's a good song):

[Image: Flickr user Kat Selvocki]

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  • jasonhenrickssen

    Well nowadays there are plenty of services which share the info about social network users on demand. One of these — service.
    According to developers the service was originally established as a private instrument for spying on their GFs))) After a while they decided to share the service with the other social network users from the best motives. So, enjoy the friuts of their labor, just as I do. Especially since it's free from any charge)

  • Shanna Bright

    I have noticed a trend where people follow you, and as soon as you follow them back, they unfollow you. I suspect they are just building up their numbers. And for that, I don't care what they have to say, I unfollow them. Frustrating when people do that!

  • ally biring

    I think if its someone who you really admired (professionally or personally) have a look at your tweet history have a think about what you are sharing and maybe try to improve what it is you are doing be it don't tweet something offensive. Avoid drunken tweets or sharing links to articles that you haven't read or retweeting constantly. Just some things to consider.