The Mysterious Words You Can’t Tweet

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The legend goes something like this: as a child, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s father would relentlessly hound him to “Get better”, so Jack eventually banned the phrase from being tweeted. Go ahead and try it, the tweet won’t go through. But the legend? It’s a hoax.

See, way back when, Twitter wasn’t a popular smart phone app, it was a way to publish up to 140 characters to the Internet via text message. To let people follow and unfollow each other, change their bio, and more straight from SMS, Twitter created a list of commands that when sent wouldn’t be tweeted, but would trigger actions instead.

So now when you tweet  “get better”, “get [any single word]“, and several other phrases Twitter interprets them as SMS commands.

If you want more to try, there’s “Fav [username]” to favorite someone’s last tweet, and “Suggest” to receive recommendations of who to follow. Some of the commands still work from the web interface and smartphone apps. You can follow someone by tweeting “follow joshconstine” or just “f [username without the @]“. Others like the mysterious “get” command that spawned the rumor on StackExchange Skeptics which was busted by user DMI, don’t work outside of SMS.

There’s also no evidence Dorsey’s father ever told him to “get better” or aggressively pushed him to succeed. In fact, Mr. Dorsey senior sounds like a very cool dad who ran a pizza restaurant that inspired Jack’s entrepreneurship, and helped Jack “build a model of a mass spectrometer out of Legos, ball bearings, and magnets when he was 11″ according to Fast Company.

That doesn’t mean the Twitter co-founder and Square CEO doesn’t want you to “get better”, though. When Jack won an award for encouraging others to start their own business, he told the crowd “Don’t just expect the unexpected—BE the unexpected.”

[Illustration by Wes Duvall for Fast Company]