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Twitter is used by a variety of people globally. You tweet, I tweet, actors and actresses, comedians, politicians, businesses and bands all tweet. Even God and Lord Voldemort have Twitter accounts.
Unlike LinkedIn, Twitter doesn’t ask or display a lot of PII and there are no professional norms encouraging your to keep your account realistic. Many Twitter accounts are run by completely anonymous individuals. But while it might be easier, and more acceptable, to keep your identity a secret on Twitter there are still many pitfalls to the site that may compromise your private information.
1. Don’t Give Away your LocationLetting people know where you are also let’s them know where you aren’t. An innocent tweet about how your camping trip is going might tip burglars off that your house is vacant. And they know where you live because you’ve also tweeted from home before with your location tagged! To prevent you from ever even being tempted to add your location, go ahead and turn off this feature.
First go to your Settings and privacy page then to the Privacy and safety tab. The second security item is your Tweet location and it asks if you would like to add your location to your tweets. Make sure this box is unchecked! Since you’re already editing your location settings look for a big button, which says Delete location information, and click! Now you have erased pesky, old location data from previous tweets. (Without erasing the tweets!)
2. Think Before you PostTwitter was built so that you could share any thought that pops into your head at anytime. But before you post, double check to be sure you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else. You now know not to give away your own location, so don’t give away a friend’s either. Don’t post photos of anyone else without their permission, and only post photos you are comfortable being online forever. You never want to reveal too much information about yourself and you definitely don’t want to compromise or hurt someone else. Before you click Tweet read through your post one more time!
Rule of thumb: Think of Social Media like a bulletin board at your office or school. You wouldn’t post a risque photo or a scathing comment about someone in public, so don’t post something that could come back to hurt you online either.
3. Check Suspicious LinksWith only a 140 character limit people are desperate to keep their tweets short any way they can. One common tendency people have is shortening links. If you’re click happy and don’t check these abbreviated links before you click you may find yourself on a fake form or with a virus downloading to your computer.
Depending on your browser, you should be able to download an extension that will check links for you. Both Firefox and Chrome have great link checkers, and if your browser doesn’t support a scanning extension try pasting the link in VirusTotal before clicking.
4. Sniff Out Fake AccountsAnyone can create a Twitter for themselves or can create a Twitter for someone else. So how do you know when an account is fake? A brief overview of their Twitter should give you a hint of a personality or a profession. Fake accounts post a lot of URLs or Tweet completely useless and irrelevant information. While you’re on their Twitter profile glance at their follower/following counts. A fake account will have a disproportionate followers to following count while a genuine account will have a more even ratio. Finally, check out their profile picture. Is it a picture model or a celebrity (showing a lot of skin) they could’ve found on Google? Then the account might be a fake.
There are also programs which will check your follower list and weed out any fake accounts. Try connecting Fakers to your Twitter account. This website will scrounge through your account and pick out any fake accounts you are following. There are many other sites and apps which will perform the same type of test. Before you connect any second party app to your Twitter, be sure to do your research and read reviews by those who have already used the program!
5. Know the Signs of a Compromised AccountYou may still be able to log into your Twitter and go about business as usual without noticing that your account has been accessed by someone else. Eventually you may notice some inconsistencies in your account, but you should be looking out for the signs of a compromised account routinely. Spotting one of these signs could save you, and your followers, a lot of grief.
- Tweets from your account not written by you, or answers to Tweets you never sent
- Direct Messages from you account to other users that were not written by you
- Behaviors like Following, Unfollowing, Blocking not handled by you
- Notifications from Twitter Administration telling you your account may be compromised
- Changes to your account information/appearance that you don’t remember making
With these tips you will now be more #CyberAware on Twitter. There are many more tricks to staying fully secure, and Twitter has some great resources for you to educate yourself. Make it a habit to regularly check your privacy settings on Twitter. Sometimes things change right under your nose!
Twitter is great for expressing your thoughts and opinions rather you want to be anonymous or not. But before you click on any links or post a message to your followers, think twice!