Twitter Test Account – Testing the Twitter API with a temporary account

I’ve recently been doing some development work with the Twitter REST API, and I ran into an interesting dilemma – what to do when I want to test a post – and especially a batch-post? In my case I don’t really want to use my live account, as I have an established account with followers I will surely annoy. I really want to do this quietly on a Twitter test account – so that nobody sees the updates, and nobody knows it’s me messing around. There’s no such thing as a developer account if you are a mere mortal like me with a standard un-whitelisted account. The answer is quite simple. You should:

  1. Create a test twitter account
  2. Protect your updates
  3. Do your testing and bugfixing
  4. Change the Name, Username, and Email under account settings
  5. Delete the account
  6. Do the real thing on your live account

See below for step-by-step instructions on how, and why to do all this.

1. Create a test twitter account
First thing you want to do is create a test twitter account so that the junk you upload won’t pollute your live production account stream, and also won’t be seen publicly (see point 2.) since if you’re like me, you’ll be making many mistakes before you get things working right! Create your test account in the usual way here.

2. Protect your updates
To avoid your updates appearing in the public timeline, search, and other third party apps and twitter sites, as well as to avoid people following you without your permission, it’s a good idea to ‘protect your updates’. You can do this by clicking Settings, check ‘Protect my updates’ and ‘hit Save’.

3. Do your testing and bugfixing
You can now play around with the Twitter API. Do your updates, follows, favourites – all that stuff. Fix your bugs, test again and get to the point where you are happy with your code. Note that if you’re doing more than just ‘updates’ (ie: posts) and more than 100 requests per hour, you’ll need to get your account or IP whitelisted. You can find out more about this here.

4. Change your account settings
Now you are done with your testing and bugfixing, but you’re a good Twitter citizen and you want to delete your account so someone else can use it – maybe even you. Since it’s difficult to re-register the same account name once the account is deleted, and since it’s impossible to signup under the same email address again, it’s important that you change these settings before you go ahead and delete your account. Thankfully, this is a simple process. You simply go to Settings, and change the Name, Username, and Email settings to something other than what they are already, enter your password and hit Save. Note: To reduce the chances of using up a useful account name, please consider making the new one as usless as possible – eg: 986sfsdfkjlblah.

5. Delete your account You’ve done the right thing, and changed the account details. Now you simply hit ‘Delete my account’ at the bottom left of the Settings screen, confirm and you’re done. Someone else, including you, can now signup for that original account name again. Don’t you feel good about that ?

6. Now do the real thing Now you can go update your script to reference your real account login, and go do your bad-ass thing on your live account without fearing making any major screw-ups on your precious live Twitter feed.

It would be great if Twitter would introduce the concept of a Developer Account, or test posts that are visible only to the poster in a live account, but in the meantime the above is the best way to go about doing things.

Hope this has proven useful. Please leave a comment below if so.

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3 thoughts on “Twitter Test Account – Testing the Twitter API with a temporary account

  • March 30, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Thanks, this was useful 🙂 I like the idea of cleaning up afterwards, too. Setting up a new account for the next time is very easy, only people who test the Twitter API as a regular part of their job need keep one open.

  • August 11, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Creating a test twitter account means creating a test email account too! Yeah, a developer account would be great!

  • August 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    This is great – was wondering how to do this for work!

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