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How to Use Twitter and Keep Your Personal Information Private

Above all else, remember that Twitter is an online public forum and shares any personal information you tweet. Even when you’re talking to your trusted Twitter network, your tweets are very much public; Google and other search engines index them, and anyone on the web can link to them.

Protect your account by adjusting your settings to prevent search engines and the occasional passerby from viewing your updates.

All the public exposure that Twitter offers can really help promote you and your business, but that exposure also comes with some responsibilities:

  • Use common sense! Don’t publicly tweet or @reply someone your address, phone number, or other personal details that you should keep private. Send that kind of information via DM (direct message) — or, even better, via e-mail, instant message, or phone call. Keeping your personal details private protects both you and anyone in your care, such as your kids.

  • Use DMs cautiously. Typing d or dm username and then your message does send a private direct message from any Twitter interface.

    But trust us, if you make a typo e, you would not be the first person to accidentally post a private DM publicly. Ensure you use the correct syntax for a DM (or better yet, use the direct message functionality embedded in whatever client you use to access Twitter).

    To avoid accidental updates, make it a habit to use the Message button on a user’s page, double-check your d username tweets before posting, or use direct messages to send DMs. You want to be extremely careful if you decide to send sensitive information by DM.

    Better yet, use an even more secure medium like e-mail or even encryption. Never send passwords, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, or other valuable private data by Twitter (or even e-mail, for data that sensitive).

  • Maintain boundaries. Try to be aware of how you are (or aren’t) maintaining boundaries with the people you interact with frequently on Twitter. Especially before you agree to meet someone in person, take a look at how you’ve interacted in the past and make sure that you’ve kept your relationship clear from the start, whether it’s for business or friendship.

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