How to force a user to unfollow you on Twitter

Author’s note: As of this posting, this only works with the old version of Twitter. Although still available, Twitter says “old Twitter” will eventually go away completely.

Twitter is a pretty fascinating communications tool, which means you can meet great people or get some really crappy spam. In #NewTwitter, classifying someone as spam is fairly easy and instantly removes that user from following you. The drawback to this approach is now that person has been flagged as a spammer, which might not always be true.

Sometimes you don’t want to associated with certain riff-raff.

There can be  good reasons to remove a follower. Perhaps you don’t want to be associated with a user’s viewpoints, which shouldn’t be taken lightly with Twitter’s “Who to follow” feature. For example, I got followed by someone today who I don’t know, nor do I have any interest in following back. But since the user also is following some of my Twitter friends, Twitter seems to think I might be interested.

Hmm … Ten tweets and 1,600 followers? Sounds fishy. I’ll pass.

But what if this wasn’t a spammer and just a regular user? I could protect my account, but I’m not into doing that. Twitter works better when it’s open, not closed.

Following these steps will remove a user from your followers, while avoiding classifying the user as a spammer. Don’t ever say someone is a spammer unless they really, truly are a spammer. Blacklisting is nasty.

  1. Sign in to Twitter with your account.
  2. Switch to “old Twitter” (if not already)
  3. Under Settings, scroll down to the bottom and select Protect my tweets
  4. Press the Save button and enter your password when prompted
  5. Go to your Follower list
  6. Find the user you want to have unfollow you.
  7. Under the Actions menu on the right, click on the Settings button (it looks like a gear)
  8. On the menu that appears, select Remove {username}
  9. When prompted if you want to actually remove the user, say Yes (if you’re sure)
  10. When finished, unprotect your account and switch to “new Twitter” (or don’t)

There you have it. I’d love to see this feature come back in future iterations of Twitter, but only time will tell what  Twitter plans to do with its features. But if forcing a user to unfollow you on Twitter is something you want to take advantage of, get going: “old Twitter” won’t be here forever.

6 thoughts on “How to force a user to unfollow you on Twitter

  1. Mike

    Why wouldn’t you just block the user from following you the normal way? Seems much easier then this workaround. Every Twitter client I have used allows for a ‘normal’ follower block (without reporting the user for spam) using the API.

    1. ericjgruber Post author

      Think of this as stealth mode.

      If I’m blocked, I’ll get a message saying so, like if I’m checking a conversation of multiple users.

      If I’m merely not following, I can still see the conversation but not get any permissions messages. And, if I’m not paying close enough attention, might not even realize I’m not following you anymore.

      1. David Eldridge

        I prefer those types of methods. I am sure that there are ‘transparency’ issues with blocking in so ‘surreptitious’ a manner, but I definitely prefer not to be too confrontational or in-your-face about situations like that. I appreciate your taking time to outline that.

  2. Jens

    It is enough to block the person and then unblock after a couple of seconds again. The person then does not follow you anymore

    1. ericjgruber Post author

      Jens, you are absolutely correct. It didn’t always used to be that way (pre “new Twitter”) but these days, your method is spot on. I should include an update for future visitors, thanks! – EJG


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