Take Charge of Your Twitter Privacy with These Settings - dummies

Take Charge of Your Twitter Privacy with These Settings

By Marsha Collier

On the left side of the Twitter Account page, you’ll notice lots of links. Each one of those links has settings that can improve the time you spend on the Twitter platform. Here’s a short overview of some of what you can set in Twitter.

Twitter privacy

  • Privacy and Safety is the best area for being sure you have a pleasant time on Twitter. Here you can make decisions as to how much contact you want from Twitter and from those with whom you connect on the site. Just be sure to read anything you are agreeing to before you give permission. Here’s a few things to consider:
    • Don’t protect your Tweets; this makes them visible only to those whom you follow. If you set this, someone (perhaps an old friend) will find you through search, but can’t see what you’re sharing. People get to know you and about you by reading your Tweets.
    • Twitter is a public forum, so be careful what you say (or are willing to defend or argue). Never post anything on Twitter that you wouldn’t want to see printed in your local newspaper. More than one celebrity has done this at one time or another and regretted it. You can delete Tweets, but they stay in the public timeline from the time you post until the time you delete them, and someone might take a screen shot.
  • Why add a location to your Tweets? Unless you want the public to know every place you are, leave this option blank.
  • Address book. Address books are tricky if you want to keep your contacts private. If you uploaded every contact you have, you might find some on Twitter and compromise your friends’ privacy.
  • Direct Messages are private messages that you access in a different area from the public timeline. There’s a lot of strangers out there. You can opt to receive Direct Messages from anyone or not.
  • Send/Receive read receipts. If you read a private, Direct Message and choose not to respond, it could be considered a breach of etiquette. So you turn this option off and answer messages in your own time.
  • The Safety area. This covers sensitive content and Tweet media settings, which allow you to label your media for the appropriate viewers, and select whose media appears on your Twitter home page. If you prefer not to see possibly offensive images, leave Display Media That May Contain Sensitive Content unselected. If you plan on posting some racy pictures, select the Mark my Media as Containing Sensitive Content check box — to protect the innocent.

A most important Twitter setting

Buried subtly below the very prominent Manage Your Contacts bar is an innocent-looking category called Personalization and Data.

Twitter Personalization & Data

There’s no free lunch on the Internet. If you followed any of the very public brou-ha-ha over the Facebook Cambridge Analytics scandal, this is where those permissions can leave you open.

Next to the bold phrase Allow Some, click the word Edit. The page that opens here transparently shows you where and how your data might be shared. (This advice is relevant on other platforms as well.)

Twitter shared data

  • Personalized Ads. This means that the ads you see on Twitter would be based on your interests. Twitter knows your interests because of the words you share on the platform. For example, if you talk about dogs, you might see pet food ads; talk about a garden and you could see ads from florists or gardening suppliers; talk about politicians and you may see political ads. Get it? You can opt in or not right here.
  • Personalize based on your devices. This option gets a bit trickier. When you’re on Twitter, they obviously can see what you comment on and how you feel about things. Know this about your devices, this is one thing you can’t control: Every browser or app you use on any device accesses the web via its own IP address set by the Internet provider. The IP address doesn’t expose you personally, but it would indicate that, say, someone from Atlanta, Georgia is visiting a website at a certain time, on an iPhone using the iOS operating system (and what version). What you can control with this setting is whether you give Twitter permission to follow you around the web for further information on your interests.
  • Personalize on the places you’ve been. This permission allows Twitter to serve you ads that may be relevant when you are away from home. This can be a good thing when you’re traveling, like getting an ad from a local restaurant. Remember that because when you are on a mobile device, websites can tell where you are anyway.
  • Track where you see Twitter content across the web. Data (not personalized — meaning they don’t know your name, Twitter ID, email address, or phone number) will be used when you browse the Internet to serve up ads on websites that match your interests.
  • Share your data with Twitter’s business partners. This generally means they sell. (A business needs to make money, right?) Twitter might “share” device-level data (like that IP address), demographics about you, your interests, and what ads you’ve viewed (and/or taken action on). Again, as in the paragraph prior, your actual personal information will not be “shared.”

Revisit these permissions occasionally on all platforms to see what changes have been made and keep up on any changes in Twitter Privacy.