4 Ways to Stay Safe on Twitter
By Pauline Hammerbeck, Allstate
Compared to other social networks, Twitter is relatively simple—basic even. But it’s also a wildly popular public forum, which is why social media privacy experts advise giving some thought to how people access Twitter and the information they share—or risk becoming victim to an array of crimes.
Here are five tips on staying safe with Twitter:
Hide your location. If you consider that a majority of burglars are loosely connected to their victims and that hackers actively troll social media sites for the personal info commonly used to verify financial accounts, you may have second thoughts about activating Twitter’s Tweet Location feature (it’s disabled by default). To revoke access, click “Settings,” then “Account,” uncheck the “Add a Location” box and click “Save.”
Evaluate Twitter links. Links are the lifeblood of Twitter, but most are posted with a URL shortener like bit.ly that obscures the destination (a boon for phishing scams). To avoid clicking into a site that may compromise your computer, download a browser plug-in that shows the entire URL without having to click it. You can also follow @spam, an official Twitter account, for updates.
Check your apps. You can lose a lot of control when you link an app to your Twitter account. Some send tweets on your behalf; others ask for password info; and others even send location coordinates with your tweets. Check your apps (and the data they access) by going to “Settings,” then “Apps.” Of course, some legitimately require your password (like those that enable you to tweet from your phone)—just do your research first.
Enable HTTPs. A simple way to deter hackers when you’re on unsecured networks (like public Wi-Fi) is to enable HTTP browsing. When HTTP is at the beginning of a URL, rather than just HTTP, it indicates your session is secure. You can automate HTTP browsing on Twitter by going to “Settings,” then checking “Always use HTTPS,” and clicking “Save.”
Of course, all this talk about privacy, security and identity theft protection shouldn’t diminish what’s likely basic but critical Twitter advice: Think before you tweet! Once a tweet is out, it lives forever (deleting it just removes it from your profile). It’s instantly catalogued across a dizzying array of outlets, including the Library of Congress, which—get this—archives your tweets (and every other public tweet since 2006) for historical record.
Have you been the victim of a Twitter scam? How do you keep your private info secure on Twitter?
Guest blogger Pauline Hammerbeck is an editor for The Allstate blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.