How to Create a Lurker Twitter Account Like Mitt Romney
If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably heard of Senator Mitt Romney ‘s secret Twitter account , in which he called himself “Pierre Delekto” and followed his children, as well as journalists, political associates and several celebrities.
If you responded to Romney’s fifteen extra minutes of fame, “Yeah, I could use an account like this,” here’s how you set it up.
(Of course, I don’t recommend that you do this. There are many easier ways to track people online, and I’ll cover them at the end of the post. But if you really want a hidden Twitter account, here’s what you need to do.)
Sign up to Twitter using a unique email or phone number.
If you already have a Twitter account, you will need to connect your Lurker account to your new email or phone number. However, as social media sites crack down on email addresses and phone numbers, this can be trickier than it sounds.
I tried to create a hidden Twitter account using the Burner Email Chrome extension and Twitter was not allowing Burner Email to auto-fill the form field. (I have been able to successfully use Burner Email on other occasions, such as subscribing to newsletters on blogs, but not on social media such as Twitter or Facebook.)
However, I was able to add a new email address to my Gmail account and Twitter accepted the offer.
Name your burner account
Your new Twitter account will need both a handle and a name. The descriptor is the part that comes after the @ sign, as in my twitter @hellothefuture . The title is the part that is in bold, such as “Nicole Dicker” or, as Halloween is approaching, “Nicole baked in chocolate with orange and ricotta.” (This is scary because of the gore.)
You might be in luck with the Twitter draw at this stage, as so many Twitter descriptors have already been announced. However, if you end up with a Twitter handle that looks more like a keyboard bump, that’s okay. The name is something that will be looked at anyway, so choose it carefully.
If you can’t come up with a Twitter name yourself, you can always use the Random Name Generator to generate one for you. In my case, I was asked to call myself Nicola Stinson, which I swear is just a coincidence!
Choose an avatar
Yes, you can use the default Twitter avatar (formerly “egg”), which is probably fine if you’re just planning on hiding.
Now that you have a new Twitter account, it’s time to start hiding! This means that you follow users so that their tweets appear on your Twitter feed.
Keep in mind that if you start spying on people who are already associated with you, such as your children and / or your political supporters and opponents, it can be pretty easy to find out who you really are. Remember that other Twitter users can see who you follow, so make sure they can’t immediately identify your real identity.
Like, reply and retweet carefully
The true definition of “hiding” is to look without participating in the conversation. (In other words, when Mitt Romney told The Atlantic , “What do they call me, lurker ?” He was clearly wrong.)
If you plan to go into hiding and engage in the conversation, be careful. Other Twitter users can see your retweets and replies, which is kind of a gist, but they can also see your likes – this means if your burner account only likes tweets that praise your real identity and only reply to tweets that criticize her, which means it won’t be that hard to combine a tweet and a tweet.
Skip all of the above and just make a personal list
If you want to know what other people are saying about you online, whether you want to follow your kids, colleagues, political opponents or what you have, or if you just want to track someone else’s Twitter feed without publicly following them, you no need to worry about setting up a burner account.
Instead, you can create a personal list.
A Twitter list is exactly what it looks like: a collection of Twitter accounts that you can view in a unique feed. You don’t need to subscribe to a Twitter account to add it to the list, which is one of my favorite Twitter list features.
There are two types of Twitter lists: public and private. If you create a public Twitter list, not only other Twitter users will be able to see who is on the list, but people on the list will also be notified that they have been added to your list. If you create a private list on Twitter, no one else will know about the list or its members.
So take my advice and only create a new Twitter account if you really, really, really want to. If all you want to do is hide in a group of Twitter accounts without anyone’s knowledge, a private Twitter list will do the job just like turning Twitter accounts into RSS feeds by visiting Twitter profiles directly (for example, go to https: / /twitter.com/lifehacker instead of following Lifehacker on Twitter) and useTwitter’s advanced search to track when certain accounts are tweeting about certain topics.
If you have any other suggestions on how to hide without becoming Pierre Delecteau, let us know!