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Staying safe while using Twitter

There are lots of settings you can use on Twitter to improve your experience and protect your privacy


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. Knowing about the different privacy and safety settings can help you to have a better experience on Twitter and make sure you're only connecting with the people you want to be in touch with.

In this section:

Deciding who can see your tweets

Twitter have a number of different settings that help you to control who can view your tweets on the site. The best way to do this is to protect your tweets.

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. If someone new wants to see your tweets, they will have to request to follow you. You can decide whether or not you want to allow that person to follow your account. 

Anyone who was following you before you protected your account will still be able to view your tweets. To remove a person from your follower list, you can block them.

Protecting your tweets means:

  • Only you and your followers will be able to see and search for your tweets
  • People will have to request to follow you
  • People will not be able to retweet you
  • Your tweets will not appear in search engines like Google
  • Only your followers will be able to see your replies to tweets

Remember, people who follow you could still take screenshots of the things you put on Twitter, so be careful about the things you decide to share.

Learn more about protected tweets in the Twitter Help Centre.

How to protect your tweets

Follow these steps to protect your tweets:

  • Go to your Privacy and safety settings.
  • In the Tweet privacy section, check the box next to Protect my Tweets.
  • Click the Save button at the bottom of the page.

You will need to enter your password to confirm the change.

Unprotecting your tweets

You can choose to make your profile public at any time. This means that anyone will be able to see your tweets, including people who don't follow you. It will also mean that anyone can follow you without having to request it first. 

If you unprotect your tweets, anything that was private in the past will now be public, and people will be able to find you and your tweets when they search for things on Twitter. If you want to have a public account, but want to prevent certain users from viewing your tweets, you can block them

Tagged photos

Twitter allows users who upload photos to tag people who are in that photo. 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.

Blocking someone on Twitter

When you block someone they can no longer:

  • Follow you
  • Send you direct messages
  • View your tweets, media, or likes
  • Add your Twitter account to their lists
  • Tag you in a photo

Twitter won't alert the person that you have blocked them, but they may find out if they visit your profile.

If your account is public, they will be able to view your tweets if they log out of their account and go to your profile. You may want to protect your account if you want to avoid this.

How to block someone on Twitter

You can block someone by visiting their account, clicking the three dots on their profile, and selecting 'Block' from the menu. You can also do it from a tweet by clicking the downward arrow in the corner of the tweet and selecting 'Block'.

Learn more about blocking from the Twitter Help Centre.

Deciding what you see on Twitter

Your Twitter timeline is made up of accounts you follow and things Twitter thinks you will want to see based on who you are following and what you tweet about. 

Find more advice on controlling your Twitter experience from the Twitter Help Centre.

Following and unfollowing

You can follow or unfollow someone by going onto their account and clicking the 'Follow' or 'Unfollow' button. When you follow someone, their tweets will appear on your timeline. When you unfollow them, you will stop seeing their tweet, unless someone else you're following retweets or likes one of their tweets. 

Muting people or hashtags

If you want to stop seeing someone's tweets but you don't want to unfollow them, or if you keep seeing tweets from an account you're not actually following, you can mute that user. This means you'll stop seeing all of their tweets, and if someone you follow retweets them, that will also be hidden. 

If you mute someone, they will not know you have muted them. You can do this by clicking the three dots on the profile and selecting Mute, or you can do it from a tweet by clicking the downward arrow in the corner of the tweet and selecting Mute.

You can also mute certain words or hashtags to stop seeing any tweets with those words in them by going to your Settings and privacy. 

Show less often

Twitter will display things that it thinks you will want to see on your timeline. If you keep seeing tweets from a certain user or about a certain topic on your timeline that you don't want to see, you can click the downward arrow next to the tweet and select 'show less often' to tell Twitter you don't want to see it.

Reporting someone on Twitter

You have the power to block users but sometimes you may feel that you may want to take more action. 

If someone is behaving inappropriately, harassing or bullying you or another user, is using hate speech, or is doing something else you think is wrong, you can report the tweet or the user.

Some reasons you might want to report someone include:

  • Abuse, bullying and violent threats
  • Private information being posted about a user
  • Spam
  • Pretending to be someone else
  • Child exploitation

If you think it's wrong, it's best to report it, even if it's not on that list.

If you think you have come across child sexual exploitation, you can fill out this form to report it to Twitter.

How to report a user

To report a user, go to their profile, click the three dots next to the follow button, and select report user. You'll be guided through the process where you can tell Twitter more about what has been going on.

How to report a tweet

Tap the downward arrow in the corner of the tweet, select report, choose your reason for reporting, and follow the steps to provide more information.

After reporting something

Twitter will follow up through emails after you have reported something to let you know the status of your report.

If someone is being abusive to you, it can be a good idea to reach out to someone and talk about how you're feeling. If you have witnessed someone being abused, reach out to them to check in to see if they're okay, if it's appropriate.

Protecting your personal information on Twitter

When it comes to using social media, it's important to be aware of what information other people have access to. 

Your email and phone and number

Twitter gives you the option to allow people to find you using your email address or phone number. While this information will not be displayed publicly on your profile, if you want to stop people from being able to find you this way, go to Discoverability in your Privacy and safety settings.

Protecting your location on Twitter

Twitter allows you to share a precise location when sending out Tweets. This option is off by default, so if you want to share your location, you will have to switch it on by going to location services in your settings.

Be very careful about sharing your location online, especially if you have a public account. This means anyone will be able to see where you are, and they could also find out where your home, school, or work is. 

Find out more about Tweet locations.

To find out more about using Twitter and all of the features available, visit the Twitter Help Centre.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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Published Novem­ber 7th2013
Tags twitter safety social media
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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