I had a conversation with an associate this week about Twitter. He uses Twitter on a regular basis for both his own personal use and to promote his business. But, he had some false assumptions about his interactions on Twitter. It made me realize that although you may be on Twitter, you may not fully understand how public your messages truly are. Here are four Twitter privacy tips to help you better understand Twitter and prevent you from making a mistake you may regret.
1) Only My Followers or Accounts I Tag Can See My Tweets
False. By default Twitter accounts are public. That means that anything you say can be found by other users through Twitter search. Your tweets may also appear in Google search. The only way to limit who sees your tweets is to set up a Private Account with protected tweets or only use Direct Messages (different than @ responses).
To protect your tweets so that only Twitter accounts approved by you can follow and view your tweets, go to:
Settings > Security & Privacy >Privacy > Tweet Privacy > Check the box that says “Protect My Tweets”
But, before you do, make sure you understand the limitations of having a private Twitter account.
2) My Replies to Other Twitter Accounts Are Private
False. Although you cannot see the responses in your Twitterfeed, your replies are not private. How you use handles (@username) to address people on Twitter matters.
Example 1 – Twitter Mention
In the first example, you are tagging the person or brand, which means you are talking about them, not to them. They will be alerted you mentioned them, but the Tweet will also show on your Twitterfeed.
Example 2 – Twitter Reply
In the second example, you are directing the message to the person or brand. It will not show up on your Twitterfeed, so your followers won’t see it, but it will show up in their Tweets & Replies tab, and they will be notified of the mention. Both Tweets are public and searchable.
Expert Tip: If you want to start your sentence with the handle, but you also want it to show up in your Twitterfeed and want your followers to see it use .@
3) Replying to Someone is The Same Thing as Direct Messaging or DMing Someone on Twitter.
False. As stated above, Replies are public, Direct Messages are private. If you wanted to send a similar message as above, but wanted it to be private, send a Direct Message to that Account.
Note: Depending on privacy settings, this may only work if you follow each other.
Navigate to their full profile and click the icon shown here.
This is now a private, unsearchable conversation that you are having directly with that user.