Setting up a Twitter account in BitlBee

Streams will be shut down on 2018-08-16

This will break bitlbee with the default settings, but it can work (with caveats) if you disable the stream setting.

We have a separate page on this topic, go read it.

BitlBee has native support for Twitter via the Twitter API.

You need to use BitlBee 3.2.1 (or newer) due to server side api changes. None of the previously mentioned workarounds are effective anymore.

If you're stuck with 3.0 or 3.2 in a debian based distro, there's a repository at


To use your Twitter account in BitlBee:

   1 11:45:03 <wilmer> account add twitter <yourusername>
   2 11:45:03 <root> Account successfully added
   3 11:45:06 <wilmer> account on
   4 11:45:06 <root> Trying to get all accounts connected...
   5 11:45:06 <root> twitter - Logging in: Requesting OAuth request token

Since you're using OAuth, you don't have to enter your actual Twitter password at this point.

This will start up OAuth authentication. Soon, you will receive a private message from twitter_yourusername:

   1 11:45:07 <twitter_yourusername> To finish OAuth authentication, please visit and respond with the resulting PIN code.

Open this link in your web browser and you will get something like this:


Or if you're not logged into Twitter yet in that browser, it will let you do that first. Once you click on Allow here, Twitter will show you a seven-digit password. In your IRC window with twitter_yourusername, just respond with this password (and nothing else on the line, just the password!) to finish the login process. If everything goes well:

   1 11:59:54 <root> twitter - Logging in: Connecting to Twitter
   2 11:59:55 <root> twitter - Logging in: Logged in

And you will now get all tweets from yourself and the people you follow in the twitter_yourusername query window. (Note that you can use the rename command to change this nick into something else, for example to just "Twitter".) If you want to send tweets yourself, any message sent to this user will be posted as a tweet.

This OAuth-based authentication "dance" has to be done only once. At the end of the process, Twitter gives BitlBee a permanent authentication token, which will be saved in your configuration.

If you'd like to get your Tweets in something that looks more like an IRC channel instead of everything in one query window, you can use the mode account setting. To enable it, you have to log out, change the setting and log back in:

   1 12:05:13 <wilmer> account list
   2 12:05:13 <root> ...
   3 12:05:13 <root> 13 (twitter): twitter, yourusername (connected)
   4 12:05:13 <root> End of account list
   5 12:05:18 <wilmer> account twitter off
   6 12:05:18 <root> twitter - Signing off..
   7 12:05:26 <wilmer> account twitter set mode chat
   8 12:05:26 <root> mode = `chat'
   9 12:05:28 <wilmer> account twitter on
  10 12:05:28 <root> twitter - Logging in: Connecting to Twitter
  11 12:05:29 <root> twitter - Logging in: Logged in

And in a new channel window you'll get all your Twitter stuff:

   1 12:05:29     -!-     Irssi: &twitter_bitlbee: Total of 22 nicks [1 ops, 0 halfops, 10 voices, 11 normal]
   2 12:05:29     -!-     Topic for &twitter_bitlbee: BitlBee groupchat: "home/timeline". Please keep in mind that root-commands won't work here. Have fun!
   3 12:05:29     -!-     Topic set by root [] [Sat May 22 12:05:29 2010]
   4 12:05:29 <root> Your Tweet: Some people *may* be having troubles with because of apparent network problems @ London Internet Exchange.
   5 12:05:29 <root> Your Tweet: BitlBee 1.2.5 is finally ready, with full support for status messages and better support for Facebook chat!
   6 12:05:29 <root> Your Tweet: BitlBee with native Twitter support: will be merged into mainline soon.

In this mode, you can also send messages by just writing in the IRC channel.

Using Twitter inside BitlBee

Now that you have twitter up and running inside bitlbee, you'll probably want to follow/unfollow users on twitter etc.

To start following someone:

add twitter twitter_username_to_follow

Likewise, you can use unfollow to unfollow someone.

Right now, there's no way to block a twitter user using bitlbee. Moreover, there's no support for twitter 'lists' or keyword searches as of yet in bitlbee.

Replies, retweets, direct messages etc.

You can retweet and reply to messages with BitlBee. See help set commands and help set auto_reply_timeout for more information.

In short, usually just replying to people the way you normally do on IRC should be converted into a reply to the person's last message. Retweets can be done by doing rt <screenname> in your Twitter window.

If you want to be able to retweet/reply to older messages regularly, it's a good idea to enable the show_ids setting, which will assign two-digit IDs to all messages, like this:

   1 11:19 <root> You: [97] Like being unable to buy laptops without Windows isn't enough,turns out removing the stupid license sticker is also really hard. Fuck you,MS
   2 11:25 <frlinux> [98->97] @wilmer my users make a decent job at scratching and making all serial stickers unreadable after 2 years...
   3 11:31 <frlinux> [00] ...
   4 11:40 <wilmer> reply 98 Heh, in fact mine was already quite unreadable already yeah, in just over one year. Should've removed it earlier..
   5 11:40 <root> You: [03->98] @frlinux Heh, in fact mine was already quite unreadable already yeah, in just over one year. Should've removed it earlier..

To message one of your followers directly (DM / direct messages), use: /msg user message.

(Strict) command mode

If you prefer, you can put Bitlbee in command mode to make every action explicit, preventing the accidental tweet if you make a typo. To set Twitter to command mode, set the commands setting to 'strict'. These are the possible values:

To do this, make sure you are in &bitlbee, and run account <num> set commands strict, where <num> is the id of your Twitter account. account <num> set will list the current configuration for that account.

In strict command mode, the following commands are supported:

There's a patch to add a help command to explain the above here:

Filter channels

Since BitlBee 3.4, you can add twitter filter channels

This allows you to track keywords or hashtags and/or read the tweets of select users without actually following them. A filter group chat can have multiple users, keywords, or hashtags.

Limitations: Do not use the reply command in a filter channel. The msg id will be taken as a msg id from your main timeline, which will be the wrong message.

Creating a new filter channel

To create a filter channel, follow this format:

chat add twitter <search> <channel>


And then /join that channel.

Modifying a tracking channel

If you want to edit the search query used by a filter channel, do:

channel <channel> set room <new value>


chat add twitter follow:bitlbee #filterchannel

chat add twitter track:bitlbee #filterchannel

chat add twitter follow:metaphorminute;follow:RealHumanPraise #filterchannel

chat add twitter track:#giveaway #filterchannel

chat add twitter follow:metaphorminute;track:#giveaway #filterchannel

Common Issues

401 Unauthorized

Commonly, when attempting to login, twitter will respond with the following:

twitter - Logging in: Connecting
twitter - Logging in: Requesting OAuth request token
twitter - Couldn't log in: OAuth error: 401 Unauthorized
twitter - Logging in: Signing off..

Most often, when this error occurs, it means that the system clock is too far off from Twitter's own concept of what the time is. Installing 'ntp' on the system will help ensure that the system's clock stays accurate enough for Twitter.

403 Forbidden

Since 21 nov 2013 twitter does not allow HTTP/1.0 for user streams. And since 14 jan 2014, it doesn't allow unencrypted traffic. As a result, BitlBee 3.2 will not be able to connect at all.

twitter - Logging in: Getting contact list
twitter - Login error: Could not retrieve /friends/ids.xml: 403 Forbidden
twitter - Logging in: Signing off..

There are no workarounds for this error message, the only solution is to upgrade to BitlBee 3.2.1.

Other errors

Check your BitlBee version. Versions older than 3.2.1 won't work because Twitter removed the API calls used by old BitlBee versions.

BitlBee Wiki: HowtoTwitter (last edited 2019-12-26 23:07:24 by 2001:67c:5c:505:3c0b:2e0b:c577:bd8)