‘Vicariously’ app lets you snoop on other people’s Twitter timelines

You shouldn’t judge someone before you’ve walked a mile in their shoes — though in our extremely online present, scrolling a while in someone else’s feed may be more apt. Fortunately, there’s now an app for that.

Created by ilk co-founder Jake Harding, Vicariously allows you to automatically create Twitter lists based on the users another account is following. So if you want to know what scrolling through Donald Trump, Kanye West, J.K. Rowling, or Hozier‘s Twitter feeds might be like, this app can give you an idea.

“Vicariously offers the easiest way to create Twitter lists based on the follows of other users,” says the app’s website. “In addition, Vicariously syncs lists daily to ensure they’re always up to date.”

The app doesn’t just let you straight up snoop on who someone follows, though. Vicariously also lets you create lists that combine the follows of multiple accounts, only show the shared follows of multiple accounts, only show the follows of one account that aren’t also followed by another, or only show the follows that different accounts don’t have in common.

It further allows you to pin your lists to the top of your home timeline for easy access, for a bit of extra convenience. “I really enjoy that feature and reminds me of the abandoned product direction of Twitter back around 2013,” tweeted Harding. “It’s a bummer that stuff never saw the light of day.”

Vicariously's list types are based on set theory.
Vicariously’s list types are based on set theory.

Vicariously seems like a pretty nifty app, but it may not be long for this world if it doesn’t grow up quickly. Some people have expressed concern about privacy, and complained that others using the app spammed them with Twitter notifications telling them they’d been added to various lists.

Further, Twitter told TechCrunch that while it “loves that Vicariously uses Lists to help people find new accounts to follow and get new perspectives,” the app violates its rules concerning automation.

“We’ve reached out to them to find a way to bring the app into compliance with our rules,” said Twitter.

Fortunately for Vicariously’s continued existence, Harding appears to be an engaged, hands-on parent who’s invested in solving these problems and securing his baby app’s future. 

Vicariously has only been out for just over a week, but Harding has already updated it a couple of times in response to feedback about privacy and spamming. As such, the app now allows free users to create private lists, lets people stop others from creating lists based on who they follow, and lets people prevent others from adding them to lists.

“This won’t address everyone’s concerns, but it does give you control at the very least,” tweeted Harding on Monday.

“Additionally, I’m hoping to work with the Twitter developer relations team to iterate on this product so it can’t be used for abuse. I still believe this can be a great way to expand your horizons on Twitter, but there’s a thin line between usefulness and abusiveness.”

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