How to Filter Twitter Abuse from Ask.FM

Okay, this is a quick public service post for Twitter users who are currently receiving unblockable abusive messages sent by trolls via Ask.FM.

Any permanent fix for this issue will have to come either from Ask.FM dealing with their troll problem or from Twitter pulling the plug on Ask.FM’s Twitter API access, but in the meantime, some relief can be gained by using filters to clean up what you see in your timeline.

The key to filtering these messages is to realise that they all contain a link to the original message on Ask.FM which starts with “http://ask.fm”, so…

If you use a third party Twitter client, like Tweetdeck, Seesmic, etc. then most up to date clients include a mute or filter facilities, which is usually to be found in the client’s options or setting section. To block these tweets, find the mute/filter function and create a text filter* for the phrase “http://ask.fm” – this should prevent all tweets containing that text from appearing in your time-line.

Sadly, Twitter’s own standard iPhone/Android app does not have mute/filter support but mobile users can switch to free versions of Tweetcaster or Echofon which do, albeit you will have to put up with a bit of advertising.

* Some clients have additional options for blocking user names and hashtags – ignore those, it is a straight text filter

If you’re not sure if your Twitter client has a mute/filter function or where to find it, if it does, then either Google the name of your client and add the words mute and/or filter to your search, or go to the client’s website and check the manual/help section.

If you access Twitter via a standard web browser, filtering Twitter is slightly more involved as you’ll need to install a browser add-on.

Sadly, one of  the better ones – Slipstream – was discontinued earlier this year due to lack of interest but if you use Google’s Chrome then you can obtain Open Tweet Filter from the Chrome web store via this link – just install it and follow the instructions for adding a text filter.

As for Firefox users, try Larry Filter for Twitter, which you can install from this link – and, again, follow the instructions.

* Larry Filter is also available for Google’s Chrome browser

Remember the text you aiming to filter is “http://ask.fm” and the filter will hide all tweets containing that text, so you will no longer see any information sent from or via Ask.FM.

Finally, if you use a Twitter client that doesn’t have mute/filter support or a web browser for which there is no such add on available then my advice is switch temporarily to a client/browser that does support filtering; it’s a minor inconvenience compared to the hassle of dealing with online abuse.