Twitter did not get rid of the old period-in-front-of-'@' symbol trick, as Austin Frakt has claimed over at the Incidental Economist, but it does not work on the iPhone app. For those unfamiliar with this trick, putting a period in front of an '@' symbol ensures that all of one's followers see a specific tweet, instead of just people following both the tweeter and the tweeted at. For example, when starting a tweet with someone's handle, sans the period, not all of one's twitter following sees the tweet. Only those following both parties get to follow the conversation. To fix that, someone smart thought up the period trick, which involves putting a period in front of the '@' symbol, thus ensuring one's entire feed sees a tweet. Frakt says this trick no longer works when one clicks "reply" and adds a period. We did a little experiment of our own, and it still works on Twitter.com and Tweetdeck but not on the Twitter app for the iPhone.
To test the theory, I got our friend @TheWatergate to tweet something at Elspeth Reeve, my esteemed colleague at The Atlantic Wire also known as @elspethrb, but not before un-following @elspethrb from my own account. As instructed The Watergate used a period in front of its reply tweet. If Frakt's assertion held, since I only follow The Watergate and no longer follow Reeve, I should no be able to see this interaction. But as this screengrab of my feed shows, The Watergate's tweet shows up.
We tried this on both Twitter.com and Tweetdeck. All of The Watergate's ".@" tweets worked from our computers. But noticing that Frakt had a screen shot of the mobile app, we decided to check out the situation over there, too. The Watergate had the following conversation with @elspethrb using its mobile app. (Yes, this historic building has an iPhone.)
As a Watergate follower, I should have seen this, like the rest of the ".@" tweets. I did not. I only have an iPhone so I'm not sure if this extends to all mobile apps for all phones. But on the official Twitter app for iPhone, it indeed does not work.
Update 5:00 pm: After posting this, the man who discovered the issue, Dan Diamond insisted to The Atlantic Wire over e-mail he tested it on all platforms. But after we both performed another round of tests, we found it worked. He guesses Twitter might have fixed it in the past few hours. Twitter's engineers are at least aware of the issue, with one of them tweeting the following at Frakt.