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Twitter Safety Factsheet

Tips for staying safe on Twitter

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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Twitter can be a great place to keep up to date, connect with friends, and share your views. However, it's important to know what safety policies are in place so you can get the most out of Twitter.

Twitter Safety

In this section

When confronted with abusive or concerning behaviour on Twitter, regardless of who the target is, be it you or others, you should report to Twitter. The following are tips for dealing with issues on Twitter.

Unfollow or blocking someone

To unfollow an account on Twitter, simply click on that account’s profile icon, then click the “following” icon. It should turn red and say, “unfollow”. Tap the key and you’re free.

If you want to block someone from appearing in your timeline and contacting you, click on the three dots beside the follow/unfollow button and see the options in the dropdown menu.

You'll be given the option to simply block the user and to learn more about what blocking does.


When you block someone they can no longer:

  • Follow you 
  • Send you direct messages 
  • View your Tweets, following or followers lists, photos, videos, lists or favorites when logged in
  • Add your Twitter account to their lists
  • Tag you in a photo 

IMPORTANT: If your Tweets are public (i.e., not protected), they will still be visible on your public profile page to anyone, regardless of whether they have a Twitter account or not. Twitter doesn't let someone know that you've blocked them but, because they can't follow you any more, they may notice you have blocked them. Get the full details from Twitter HQ here.

Protecting your tweets

Protecting your tweets means that everything you post on Twitter will be private, and only your approved followers will be able to view it. 

  • Step 1: Click on your profile picture on the top right corner of the screen and select Settings and Privacy from the drop down menu
  • Step 2: Select Privacy and Safety from the menu on the left
  • Step 3: Beside Tweet Privacy, tick the box that says 'Protect your Tweets'
  • Step 4: Select 'Save Changes' at the bottom of the page

While with a protected account you have control over those who follow you, bear in mind that people can still screen shot those tweets.

In Privacy and Safety menu you can also: 

  • Change your location settings and delete all past location information from past tweets 

  • Change whether or not you allow people to tag you in photos 

  • Change your 'discoverability' by saying whether you want people to be able to find you using your email or phone number

  • Hide potentially 'sensitive content' from appearing in search results. 

  • Remove blocked accounts from search results

  • Change your settings around sensitive media. Media such as adult content, graphic violence or hateful imagery is considered 'sensitive media'. When it appears in a Tweet, Twitter may place it behind a warning which will advise viewers to be aware that they will see sensitive media if they click through. 

Filing a report

If you think the user you've blocked or if someone you haven't blocked needs to be reported for their behaviour then click the optional 'report' box. 

You'll be asked to provide some further details to help Twitter understand why you've reported this account or user. 

Why you may want to report a user or an account?

You have the power to block users but sometimes you may feel that you may want to take more action. The areas that Twitter will take action on include: 

  • Abuse, bullying and violent threats 

  • Private information being posted about a user 

  • Spam 

  • Impersonation 

  • Child exploitation 

  • Using someones trademark or copyrighted materials 
  • Sale of counterfit goods 
  • If someone is using Twitter who is under 13 
  • Some other areas you can find out more about here

Reporting an abusive user

Go to the user's profile, click the three dots next to the follow button. Select report user, you'll be guided through the process where you can tell Twitter more about what has been going on. 

If someone is being abusive to you, it can be a good idea to reach out online or offline to a trusted friend or adult. If you have witnessed somone being abused, reach out to them to check in to see if they're ok if it's appropriate. 

Who can tag me in photos on Twitter?

On Twitter you can post up to four pictures with each tweet and tag up to 10 people in each photo so it's important to be aware of how to control who tags you. In your account settings, under the tab 'Privacy and Safety' you can choose whether or not to allow Twitter users or followers to tag you in photos.

Mute Users

Twitter also allows you to 'mute' profiles you follow so you don't have to see their tweets. This is handy as you don't have to unfollow a user and you can still see notifications and '@' mentions from the user, you can just avoid them in your timeline. Muted users can still follow and DM you as muting doesn't block them (see above). 

Mute a word, phrase or hashtag

You also have the choice of muting words, phrases or hashtags from their notifications. This is very handy in case someone might be sending you tweets containing words, phrases or hashtags which you do not want to see from anonymous accounts. 

For Desktop Users

When using Twitter on a desktop computer or laptop, you need to click on your profile picture on the upper right and then click 'Setting and Privacy' from the drop down menu. Next you can click 'Muted words' on left menu bar. Then you can type in any phrase or word you would like and tweets containing those words or phrases will not appear in your timeline or mentions. 

For Mobile Users

On the Twitter mobile app, simply go Settings and Privacy. Click Privacy and Safety and scroll down to Muted Words.  From there you can add whichever words or phrases you like.

Child sexual exploitation

Come across content on Twitter that you feel is sexual exploitation of a child, take the following steps:

  • First, do not re-tweet or respond to any child sexual exploitation tweet
  • Fill out this form to report the content to Twitter
  • You may can also report any child sexual exploitation material you come across to the Gardai and/or You can report child sexual absue material, grooming and other concerning content here too.

Last but not least, take the following safety precautions to protect yourself and make Twitter a positive platform for sharing:

  • Think before you tweet: remember that twitter is an open platform and what you say can have a ripple effect. Negative posts can harm others physiologically or even lead to physical harm. Therefore, be a responsible tweeter.
  • Pick a strong and distinctive password to safeguard your account’s security.
  • Be alert to any abusive behaviour on Twitter and help banish it!


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Published Novem­ber 7th2013
Tags twitter safety social media
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