Updated: Feb 19, 2019
Likes and followers, @s and #s. Tweets and Retweets. When does it end? Does it end? And if it doesn’t, how do we as teenagers, parents, teachers, and professionals deal with it. Social media is a never-ending cycle of promise, opportunity, danger, and pain. Did you know that every single week, over 100,000 cyberbullying tweets are sent out on Twitter alone. That is 14,285 cyberbullying tweets per day, 595 tweets per hour, and 9 tweets per minute. This means that someone, somewhere is using Twitter to cyberbully another person every 6 seconds. This does not count the millions bullied on Facebook and Instagram every week.
Analyzing Facebook and Instagram would be downright unfair without an equally harsh analysis of Twitter. With 336 million monthly active users, Twitter earned the spot in our top 10 largest social media platforms. As such, it deserves a safety analysis. Here are 3 tips for how to stay safe on Twitter.
Tip #1: Location, Location, Location!
You’re out on a date; capture that magic moment with a photo. Your adorable three-year-old is playing at the park; capture that one too. Oh, and your middle schooler just started playing the sport they will probably play all the way through college; you should probably capture that moment too. Capturing these sweet life moments and sharing them with the world is part of the joy of social media. But, social media platforms, Twitter included, like to play a dirty little trick with your sweet photos. Geotags. Twitter has an exact, GPS, pinpointed location of that restaurant with your date, the park where your kids play, and the school where your middle school athlete plays her games. Scary? Let’s make it worse.
You may be a safety conscious parent and have your location services off for your camera and your Twitter account on private mode so only your friends and followers can see your moments. That is a great first step. But, do all of your friends and followers have their accounts locked down? What happens when someone who has a public page copies and shares your photos, which are embedded with geotags? All of a sudden, anyone can find your kids at school or the park.
I literally cannot stress the importance of having location services absolutely shut down on social media platforms. It is not enough to shut your camera location down, though that is also necessary. Encourage your friends and followers to lock down their accounts too and be careful who you allow to follow you.
Tip #2: Use the Privacy Settings.
Yes, this tip is the same no matter what social media platform you use. But, it is a good reminder. Customized to Twitter, here are the safest privacy settings:
a. Enable Protect your Tweets: This allows you to only allow sharing to people who follow you, and you get to approve your new followers. Don’t allow people you don’t know to follow you, and don’t follow people you don’t know.
b. Disable Discoverability on your personal page: I specify for your personal page because you want to be discovered on a professional page.
c. Disable Precise Location: DANGER!!! This one is a must!
d. Mute: This is a clever feature of Twitter that allows you the parent, or just you the person, to mute specific words or accounts. This will filter the material getting into yours or your kids’ Twitter feed.
Tip #3: Less is More!
Social media platforms are terrible about asking for lots of unnecessary information. Do not feel compelled to answer all their questions. Twitter does not need to know your mother’s maiden name or your first pet’s name. By the way, I think I recall answering security questions like this before. Hint, hint! They also don’t need to know every single address you’ve ever had, every restaurant you’ve ever been to, every person you are related to, or every job you’ve worked. Your personal page should not look like a resume or a CIA questionnaire. Share the special moments. Leave it at that. You’ll be safer. Oh, and you’ll be far less irritating to follow for anyone other than identity thieves and the CIA. It’s a WIN, WIN!
But don’t delete your Twitter account just yet! After all of this, it may be difficult to convince you that social media is not all bad and should not be thrown out ASAP. Like all tools, social media can be used for good or for evil. It just depends on the user. Twitter can actually provide an effective platform for an online resume, used to connect directly with recruiters. It’s large sphere of influence can let you shine your brightest while moving you toward your dream school or job. Create a professional page- separate from your personal page. Upload a professional photo, make it public, and tweet your resume. Follow people in the same career you are looking for as well as people from your dream job. Use specific hashtags that highlight your skills and ideal job situation. Retweet your resume once a week or so until the dream job is yours. Oh, and by the way, don’t use your professional page for rants about your current job, personal photos, or negative or distasteful comments. No one wants to hire that person.
(Probably a good idea not to rant on your personal page either).
Use Twitter wisely and it could provide great opportunities. Use it unsafely, and it could be a real threat. It’s up to you.