Twitter Privacy, Security, and Safety Tips

Twitter privacy, security, and safety tips

Keyboard with Tweet button

Peter Dazeley / Getty

In our society, where Twitter hashtags appear on TV, Facebook, news stories, and magazines, some people tweet several times per hour. Others tweet only once in a blue moon. Whatever your situation, there are security and privacy implications that you need to consider before you fire off your next tweet rant or tweet that adorable cat photo to your followers.

Don't Add 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 be a 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 can decide this would be a good time to rob your house.

To stop including your location with your tweets, click the Tweet button at the top of your Twitter screen to open the Compose New Tweet box. Toggle the location icon at the bottom of the new tweet to the Off position. The location feature remains off for future tweets unless you turn it back on. On mobile devices, go to your device's Privacy Settings, locate Location Services, and select Never next to Twitter.

To delete the locations from all older tweets using a browser, go to your Twitter's Privacy and Safety settings, click Privacy and Safety in the left panel to expand the options and click Delete location information.

Strip Geotag Info From Your Photos

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 can be accessed by anyone who views the photo. Anyone with an EXIF viewer application, which can read the location information embedded in a photo, can determine the location where the picture was taken.

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 Geo Editor (Android).

Enable Twitter's Privacy and Security Options

Twitter offers other security options in the Security and Privacy settings that you should enable if you haven't already done so.

Select the Tweet Privacy option to limit who receives your tweets rather than just making them all public.

Deselect the Photo tagging option to allow anyone to tag you in photos. Also, deselect the options that let others find you by your email address or phone number. You can also deselect the ability to receive Direct Messages in this section.

Keep Personal Info out of Your Profile

Given that the Twittersphere seems to be a lot more public than Facebook, it's wise to keep the personal details in your Twitter profile down to a minimum. Leave out your phone numbers, email addresses, and other bits of personal data that might be ripe for harvest by SPAM bots and internet criminals.

Remove Twitter Apps You Don't Use or Recognize

As with Facebook, Twitter may have its share of rogue or spam apps. If you don't remember installing a Twitter app or you don't use it anymore, you can revoke access to the app that has access to data on your account. You do this from the Apps tab in your Twitter Account Settings.