Twitter privacy and security tips

Promote yourself without sacrificing your security or your privacy.

Twitter is meant to be a public forum, but even so there are things you want to keep private, and there are security risks you should be aware of. Before you tweet again, learn how to secure your account and protect your privacy on Twitter.

Create a secure log-in

To protect your Twitter account, start with a secure password. Check out our guide to creating strong passwords. To change your password, sign in to Twitter.com and click the Profile and Settings button on the top right of your homepage. From there click Settings and Password, input your current password and a new one (which you'll verify in the field below), and click Save Changes.

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Enable login verification

Add another layer of security by enabling Twitter's two-step verification system called login verification. To get verification via SMS texts, sign in to Twitter.com, click the Profile and Settings button on the top right, select Settings and then Security and Privacy Settings, and choose "Send login verification requests to my phone," then "Okay, send me a message." After you receive the verification message on your phone, click Yes and input your password. Now whenever you log in, a six-digit log-in code will be messaged to your phone that you'll have to input to access your account.

You can also use login verification for Twitter's iOS and Android apps. To set this up on your iPhone or iPad, go to your Twitter profile page, tap on the gear icon, and choose Settings. Tap your account name and then Security, switch Login verification to On, then tap Confirm. On Android, head to your profile page, tap the more icon on the top right, choose Settings, tap your account name and Security, check the box next to "Login verification to activate," and tap OK. From now on, when you log on via another device, a push notification will be sent to the iOS or Android device associated with your Twitter account. Once you approve it, you'll be able to log in via Twitter.com.

Limit your audience

It's important to remember that your tweets, favorites, and retweets are by default broadcast to the entire Twittersphere. Meta data is also shared, including the time you tweeted, your location, and the client you used. Twitter may send this info to other users, partners, and third parties like Google, publishers that integrate Twitter into their services, and even colleges and agencies that analyze the data to track trends and form insights.

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If you don't want the public to see your tweets, make them available only to your approved followers. From Twitter.com, go to Security and Privacy Settings. Under Tweet Privacy, click the box next to Protect My Tweets and click Save. From an iOS device, head to your profile page, then tap the gear icon and select Settings. Select your account, then under Protect My Tweets, tap the switch to On. On an Android device, tap the overflow icon and hit Settings. Choose your account and under Other, check the box for Tweet privacy.

Block specific users

You can block a specific person or a group of people to prevent them from seeing your tweets. They will no longer be able to follow you, view your posts, send you direct messages, and tag you in photos. They will, however, be able to see your profile and cover photo, as well as a message that you have been blocked them. Blocked users may still mention you in their tweets, but you won't be notified about this anymore. Keep in mind that when you block a user, you will no longer be able to follow them.

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The easiest way to block someone is from a tweet. From a desktop, click the more icon under the tweet, then click Block. On an iOS device, tap the tweet, tap the more icon, and then Block. On an Android device, tap the overflow icon and then Block.

Clear your contact info

When you first joined Twitter, you probably enabled it to upload your contacts so that you could easily find friends. Twitter also uses this info to offer Who to Follow recommendations. If you'd like to delete your imported address book contacts, sign in to Twitter.com and click Profile and Settings, Settings, Security and Privacy Settings, Privacy, Address Book, Manage Your Contacts, Remove All Contacts, and Remove.

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Don't want anyone to find you by email or phone number? On Twitter.com tap your Profile and Settings icon, Settings, then Security and Privacy. Under Discoverability, check whether you want other users to be able to find you by email address, phone number, both, or neither, and then click Save Changes. On iOS, tap the gear icon, Settings, and your account, and adjust the settings under Privacy. On Android, tap the overflow icon, Settings, and your account, and adjust the setting under Other.

Control photo tagging and direct messages

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You can also control some of the ways others can interact with you on Twitter. Sign in to Twitter.com, then click Profile and Settings, Settings, and Security and Privacy. Under Privacy you'll see Photo Tagging up top. Select whether you want to allow anyone, only people you follow, or no one to tag you in photos.

By default, Twitter only allows users who follow each other to message each other. But if you want to receive messages from anyone, check Receive Direct Messages From Anyone in the Direct Messages section.

Disable third-party apps

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If you connect your Twitter account to another service, such as Hootsuite or Instagram, to cross-post, information may be shared between the services. You should only connect your Twitter account to apps that you trust. Should you choose to disconnect accounts, head to the Apps section under Settings and click the Revoke Access button. Twitter claims that your information will be gone within a few weeks.

Disable location services

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If you publish your location in your tweets or in your profile, or if your device has Location Services turned on, then Twitter can use your location to enable you to tweet with your location and provide you with relevant content like local trends, articles, ads, and follow suggestions. To stop tweeting your location, head to Twitter.com and Privacy, then uncheck "Add a location to my tweets" under Tweet Location. You can also click "Delete all location information" to erase this info from past tweets.

To disable Location Services, iOS users can go to Settings and choose Privacy. Tap Location Services, scroll down to the Twitter app, and tap to select Never or "While using the app." Android users, tap the overflow icon on the top right, choose Settings, tap General, then uncheck the box next to Location.

Control ads

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Besides using your location, Twitter tracks your clicks in Twitter, in Twitter emails, or when you're using third-party services and client applications. Twitter also has access to your log data, such as your IP address, browser type, OS, pages visited, search terms, and so on, which it uses to show you relevant advertising.

To gain some control over ads, sign in to Twitter.com, then head to Profile and Settings, Settings, Security and Privacy. Under Privacy you'll find Promoted Content. Untick the circle to stop Twitter from serving you ads based on info shared by ad partners.

Shut down your account

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Want out of Twitter completely? To delete your account, sign in to Twitter.com, head to Account settings, and click Deactivate My Account. Read the provided information, click "Okay, fine, deactivate account." Enter your password and verify, and you're done.

Once your account is deactivated, it is no longer viewable, but you have a month to restore the account before Twitter starts the deletion process. Even after deletion, search engines and third parties may retain your public info. But if you still see your tweets in Google search, you can request that Google remove it.

More resources

Security and Antivirus Center
How to stay protect your privacy on Facebook
How to stay secure on Facebook

Twitter app (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)

About Joshua Rotter

Joshua Rotter is a copy editor for Download.com and covers iOS.

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