It’s time to check your Twitter ‘Security and privacy’ settings


When it comes to privacy, Twitter’s simplicity has always been its key advantage. Your tweets are public or they are protected.

Of course, this implicit agreement with users has never been that simple.

“Protected” tweets turned out to be searchable — they aren’t anymore. And if one of your followers decides to share your tweets through a manual retweet or a screenshot, you’re just as exposed as you would be if your tweets were public. But that’s true of any form of digital — or real world — communication.

Now, Twitter is getting even more complicated to become in hopes of becoming as mainstream as Facebook, which is trying to improve the revelancy of its feed in order to replace Twitter as the go-to online destination for monitoring breaking news.

You may have noticed that Twitter’s is slowly rolling out changes to its web experience that may alter the way people understand the service. Tweets that have been favorited but not retweeted by people you follow may show up in your stream. More changes like location-based alerts and native video will soon follow.

The closer-to-original Twitter experience still exists — and will likely always exist — in apps like Tweetdeck. But no matter how you use the service, your activity on and off the site is being tracked to improve outcomes for advertisers.

This makes sense. It is a business and since you’re not paying to use this valuable service, you are its product — even if you’re using the site for business. By offering tools like its free analytics, the site is striving to make it clear how useful it is and build good will as it evolves.

However, Twitter recognizes that its users just may want to avoid allowing more “big data” tentacles into our digital brains. Thus it allows you to opt out of some tracking and features that may feel invasive.

Here’s how to do that:

Go to your “Security and privacy” section of your Settings.
Scroll all the way down. If you’re interested in maximum privacy, I recommend your uncheck the three boxes at the bottom of the page — Discoverability, Personalization and Promoted Content — then click “Save changes”.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 3.54.16 PM

While you’re on this page, make sure you’re taking advantage of Twitter’s best security tool: Login verification.

Turn on two-factor authentication by activating “Send login verification requests to my phone”.

Twitter’s biggest security problem is that everyone in the world knows your login. Unless you turn on Login verification, all an intruder needs is your password.

You may also want to make sure “Tweet location” is off and erase all of your previous locations, if you’re worried about being tracked in the real world.

One last thing while you’re checking your settings, click on Apps.

Then “Revoke access” of any you’re not using. Not sure if you’re not using an app? Get rid of it and you can always renew its access later.



[Image courtesy of Rosaura Ochoa via Flickr.]


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