Now that you've discovered what Twitter is and how it works, you may be considering using it. But an important step to take before doing that is learning how safe and secure Twitter is. In this article, we’ll tell you what you need to know about safety and security on Twitter, and give you some great tips for how to stay safe if you choose to sign up for an account.
So long as you take reasonable precautions, Twitter is about as safe to use as many other popular social networks. It does have some potential safety issues, including the ability for users to misrepresent themselves (or impersonate others), and the fact that it has no review process for tweets.
Twitter is a secure website, as it requires password-protected accounts for all of its users. As long as you protect your password and adjust your privacy settings, your account should remain secure. After all, you wouldn't want someone commandeering your account and tweeting as if they were you.
Once you hit the Post button, you can’t take back what you’ve put out into the Twitterverse. Though you can delete your tweets, it’s possible that someone will see a tweet before you remove it. Always think carefully about who will be seeing your tweets, and remember that any information you post becomes the property of Twitter.
It may be tempting to follow as many people as possible, in the hopes that they will follow you back. However, in doing so, you could end up with quite a few strangers posting information on your Twitter feed that you may not find useful or desirable. By following random people, you’re giving them an easy way to view what you've posted on Twitter at any time. Therefore, it is always good practice to follow only your friends or verified public figures (look for the blue checkmark next to their names!).
Twitter does offer the opportunity to directly message other users, which can be a way to privately talk with friends and family. However, be careful about direct messages you receive that offer you something, or make a claim that is ‘too good to be true’. Often, these are scams -- a person trying to obtain money or information from you for dishonest reasons.
Always make sure to only exchange direct messages with people whom you personally know. Also, don’t click any suspicious links in a direct message you receive; they may contain a virus! It's best just to block users you don't know who send you direct messages out of the blue.
Almost anyone can create a Twitter account, and they do not have to verify their identity in the process (though many celebrities and public figures choose to). This means that users are able to misrepresent themselves to some end, possibly posing as celebrities, your friends – anyone really. Always be a bit skeptical of users who contact you claiming to be someone you know or someone famous.
Keeping sensitive information private on social networks like Twitter is especially important, as failing to do so could pose a great danger to your personal safety. Remember that you are only required to enter your full name and either your phone number or your email address when signing up. At no other point will Twitter or any of its users require any other personal information from you. You are also not required to pay for Twitter, so there is no need to ever give out your financial information to Twitter or any of its users. So be sure to avoid sharing private information with anyone over Twitter by posting it in a tweet or direct message!
When you create your account, be sure to check your privacy settings. The default settings may surprise you in terms of how much of your information Twitter allows other users to view, or even use in order to find you on Twitter. Therefore, it’s always good practice to set your privacy preferences immediately to what you are comfortable with, rather than waiting until you have an issue.
Be sure to use a strong, long, and complex password to protect your account, and change it every 3 to 6 months. If someone breaks your password accesses your account, they can use it to post anything at all, with the posts appearing as though they came from you. Not only can this really damage your reputation or offend other users unintentionally, but it may also cause Twitter to suspend your account for violating its terms of service.
If you want to learn more about how to create secure passwords, check out our TechBoomers tutorial on how to make a strong password.
That’s how you can stay safe while using Twitter. If you’re thinking about creating an account, consider giving our next article a read first, where we review the pros and cons of Twitter.
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