Subscribing To Twitter Feeds With RSS

It’s disappointing to me how many social networking sites seem to have a complete disregard for RSS. While it’s a technology that never seemed to really catch on in the mainstream, it’s an incredibly useful way to have the information you want delivered directly to you rather than having to go get it. I use it frequently to pull blogs of interest to me into Outlook. While it is amazingly useful with blogs, it should offer the same use with microblogs. Unfortunately, Twitter seems to disagree.

Back when I first signed up for my Twitter account many years ago, before there was even a feed for your @-mentions, Twitter offered RSS support rather openly. It was an excellent way to make sure you saw someone’s tweets if you didn’t want to have them delivered to your phone via SMS. In 2008 the New York Times even included RSS as one of the prime ways to receive information from Twitter.

When I wanted to use this functionality a few days ago, though, I was disappointed to see that Twitter no longer has a link to RSS on any of the profile pages. A little hunting lead me to see that the functionality still exists within the Twitter API; for whatever reason they just choose not to advertise it. I would guess that the reason is Twitter wants users to be going to the site in order to view promoted tweets (read: advertisements).

Regardless, the following setup currently works for pulling Twitter updates via RSS:

http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss?screen_name=TwitterUserNameHere

Given that they haven’t even started pushing ads with their official mobile apps yet, I can’t see why Twitter would remove this functionality from easy access just to get a few more ad hits, but I can’t think of any other reason for the change. Regardless, at least this method works. Now I just have to hope that they don’t make any modifications to the API.

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