5 Tips For Staying Safe on Twitter

Twitter Privacy, Security, and Safety Tips

Keyboard with Tweet button
Photo: Peter Dazeley / Getty

If I had a dime for every hashtag I've seen on TV, Facebook, or in a magazine, then I would be a buzzillionaire by now. Some people tweet several times per hour. Others, myself included, only tweet once in a blue moon. Whatever your case may be, there are still security and privacy implications that you may want to consider before you fire off your next tweet rant or tweet that adorable cat photo to your followers.

1. Think twice before adding your location to tweets

Twitter features the option to add your location to each tweet. While this might be a cool feature for some, it can also be a pretty big security risk for others.

Think about it for a second, if you add your location to a tweet, then it lets people know where you are and where you aren't. You might fire off a tweet telling everybody how much you're enjoying your vacation in the Bahamas and any criminal who is 'following' you on Twitter might decide that this would be a great time to rob your house since they know that you won't be home any time soon.

To turn off the add location to tweet feature:

Click on the 'settings' option from the drop down menu to the right of the search box. Uncheck the box (if it is checked) next to the 'Add a location to my tweets' option and then click the 'Save Changes' button from the bottom of the screen.

Additionally, if you want to remove your location from any tweet you have already posted you can click the 'Delete All Location Information' button. It may take up to 30 minutes to complete the process.

2. Consider stripping Geotag info from your photos before you tweet them

When you tweet a photo there is a chance that the location information that many camera phones add to the metadata of the photo file would be provided to those viewing the photo. Anyone with an EXIF viewer application which can read the location information embedded in the photo would be able to determine the location of the picture.

Some celebrities have accidentally revealed their home's location by not scrubbing the Geotags from their photos before they tweeted them.

You can strip out Geotag information by using apps such as deGeo (iPhone) or Photo Privacy Editor (Android).

3. Consider enabling Twitter's privacy and security options

Besides removing your location from tweets, Twitter also offers a couple of other security options that you should consider enabling if you haven't already done so.

The 'HTTPS Only' option box in the Twitter 'Settings' menu will allow you to use Twitter over an encrypted connection which will help protect your login information from being hijacked by eavesdroppers and hackers using packet sniffers and hacking tools such as Firesheep.

The Tweet Privacy 'Protect My Tweets' option also lets you filter who receives your tweets rather than just making them all public.

4. Keep personal info out of your profile

Given that the Twittersphere seems to be a lot more public that Facebook, you might want to keep the details in your twitter profile down to a minimum. It's probably best to leave out your phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other bits of personal data that might be ripe for harvest by SPAM bots and other Internet criminals.

As we mentioned before, you probably want to leave the 'Location' section of your Twitter profile blank as well.

5. Remove any 3rd party Twitter Apps you don't use or recognize

As with Facebook, Twitter may also have its share of rogue and/or spam apps that may be hazardous. If you don't remember installing an app or you don't use it anymore then you can always 'Revoke Access' for the app that has access to data on your account. You can do this from the 'Application Tab' in your Twitter Account Settings.

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