September 26, 2023

Eating Twitter’s Blackbird Pie


What better way to spend the first few minutes of my lunch break than to eat some Blackbird Pie. That’s twitter’s new name for their HTML version of tweet screenshots. Now, instead of taking a screenshot, pasting it into ms paint, cropping, saving, and uploading (or using a 3rd party service like tweetshots,) Twitter users can simply use this new feature to include a clickable, copy and pasteable tweet.

Here’s what it looks like:

I’m thinking that off road vehicle sticker you bought for your sienna…waste of money. #getAJeep #youreDoingItWrongless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while, but it’s still not very useable. Honestly, I was expecting a lot more from twitter. After 10 seconds of playing with it, some issues presented themselves:

1. It’s Not Dynamic at All. There’s nothing dynamic about this. You can’t use it to automatically generate boxes for tweets, and there’s no API. When I first heard of the service I thought “sweet, finally I can embed tweets into an application given only the twitter status ID.” Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Sure, I could use the API to grab all the parts of the tweet and then rebuild their HTML, but I could have done that on my own without Blackbird Pie. I want a way to create these automatically on the fly.

2. The Code is a Mess. Twitter acknowledged this, but it seems like they were rushing because this should have never seen the light of day in its current form. I’m not talking about the sheer amount of code either, I’m talking about the code being broken. It’s got extra </span> tags for Christ’s sake. If there’s one thing I really hate, it’s another widget that spews broken code onto my websites.

3. They don’t play well together. Putting multiple instances of the widget on the same page (like I did below) seems to cause a few formatting and styling issues. When I added the fake Matt Cutts tweet below, it seems to have changed my background above to his funky purple thing.

UPDATE: perhaps the best part of blackbird pie is its ability to put words into peoples mouths:

@RyanJones is the smartest SEO I know. Worship Him.less than a minute ago via web

It’s a good first attempt Twitter, but frankly you rushed it a bit. Tons of people want this feature, and tons of people will use it (as evidenced by it going down several types as I was playing with it,) but it’s nowhere close to what it can truly be. I’m hoping this is just the first step toward making the @anywhere API extremely useful. Stick that pie back in the oven for a bit and let me know when it’s done!

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website:


  1. Gustavv says

    Heya, nice blog. I am doing a stupid little research on how many posters and companies websites are still around, and posted on a Matt Cutts blogpost 5 years ago.

    Yours is a minority ๐Ÿ˜› doesn’t redirect well.

  2. About your issue #3 (multiple tweets on the same page) maybe you should take a look at ( a pet project of mine). ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Your “How to abuse Twitter’s fake machine” guide deserves a votable spam report.

    cc @MattCutts
    bcc @GoogleWebSpam

  4. Seems like a bit of a waste of time. It’s usually best when Twitter let third parties do the innovating. They seem to do a better job (unfortunately).

    Oh, and slightly unethical use you’ve found for this feature, no?

  5. eugh you are absolutely correct, it looks horrible. I’m surprised it has been released under the twitter domain as it looks like a school project. That said, it’s a starting point. Hopefully it will be improved before long – perhaps twitter is monitoring interest and comments before investing the time and money to develop it further?

  6. I’ve just released an extension to achieve the same result from Google Chrome

  7. Hey รขโ‚ฌโ€œ i just released a wordpress plugin to add blackbird pie styled tweets to your posts. It allows you to put many “pies” in a single page, aswell as making the time posted “dynamic” using the jquery time ago plugin. Check it out :
    Hope you like!