Protect your Tweets?

Posted by Gabe on November 22, 2009 under Twitter, Twitter for Beginners | 16 Comments to Read

Protect your TweetsI saw a tweet posted by someone yesterday that prompted this post.  It read something along the lines of “C’mon people – protecting your tweets is so pretentious!”  The thing that made me laugh is that this guy was being followed by over 6000 people and he followed back only 15! Yes, fifteen people.  So who is the pretentious one?

Anyway, my personal view is that it is not at all pretentious to protect your tweets.  In fact, in some cases I highly recommend it.  @MM4Animals is my daughter’s Twitter account.  Not only do we protect her tweets, but we also discuss who she follows and who can follow her back.  It is usually limited to celebrities she knows and other people that I know.  I recommend to all the other hero parents of young ones that they protect their tweets.  In my mind it gives off a bad impression if these tweets are not protected as there are so many spammers, porn bots and other crazies on Twitter.

Now if you are an adult and want to protect your tweets here are some things to consider.  I would not recommend this action if you are trying to get lots of connections.  When I look at someone’s protected profile I cannot read their tweets, I can’t see what they tweet about, how often they tweet or when their last tweet was.  I usually follow people who are active on Twitter so I have a better chance to engage with them.  More often than not I do not send a request to follow – even when they follow me, because I have been given no reason to follow that person.  The up side about protecting your profile is that you greatly reduce the amount of spammers you have to deal with.  You are also raising the percentage of quality connections among your followers.  I do think you will miss out on some other ones though.

Another point of interest — I checked to see what happens with protected updates in conjunction with the new Twitter lists.  It works as it should, at least in my mind.  If you have protected updates and someone who is legitimately following you puts you on a list, the only people who will see your tweets from that list will be other people that follow you.  And you cannot be put on lists by people who are not following you.  That can be both good and bad. You have more control but will get less exposure.

So how do you protect your updates, anyway?  Go to your Settings page and scroll down to the bottom.  Check the “Protect my Tweets” box.  From now on you will see a list of wannabe followers that you can check out and either Accept or Deny before they can read your tweets.

Would love to hear other reasons why some of you protect your tweets! :)

Update 12/12/09: Since I have written this post I have discovered that many people have found it via Google. No, they weren’t searching for “thought provoking articles on Twitter”.  The real nature of the search was a bit more sinister in fact: “how to read unprotected tweets”.  Since this kept happening over and over I tried Googling the same phrase.  Sure enough, my post was there amid the other results.  And there were other posts that related more to the actual search.  Several methods were published in fact.  I was surprised to find that indeed there is at least one loophole to read protected tweets. I will not divulge how I did it here, but I came across a post, read it, found a person (who I was not following) whose tweets were protected and voila.  The tweets were there out in the open when I followed the directions.  Now if I did it this easily anyone else can too.  So what does this mean?  When you protect your tweets they are not fully protected. You will still have a level of privacy but don’t believe your tweets will be truly private until Twitter closes all the loopholes.

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  • Phillip Gibb said,

    nahhh, what’s the point?
    my wife protects her tweets because she’s not so comfortable with strange people following her

  • Rob Dore said,

    This is a very good point but I think it entirely depends on your tweets and what you’re using twitter for. Your protection of your daughter is admirable and this is something that all parents should consider.
    I don’t protect my tweets but I do pay attention to who I follow and who is following me. Similarly I block people if I think they could mean a bad judgement of my and my business by association.
    I don’t think an outright protection is right for everyone but caution certainly is.

  • Gabe said,

    Thanks Rob,
    I agree with this and I tried not to appear for or against protecting your tweets. It really does depend. But with the spammers and all the scams and phishing going on it is becoming more and more difficult to keep the wolves away. For this reason, Twitter itself is not for everyone. But now I am spoiling the subject of one of my next posts. ;)


  • Joel said,

    I’ve got a question, if your tweets are protected, and you comment or respond to a tweet to a person who you are following, can they still receive and read that tweet you wrote to them, even though they are not following you and your tweets are protected?

    for example, a person you are following says:
    @Bob: “Hey followers, what channel is American Idol on tonight and what time?”

    (and you reply by saying)
    @Bob: “hey Bob, you can watch it on FOX at 8pm tonight.”

    Thank you for any help :)

  • Gabe said,

    Hi Joel,

    Good question. I have another Twitter ID (GabeONeill)that I don’t use, so I went ahead and protected the tweets. Then I sent an @reply to KidsAreHeroes, who was not following GabeONeill. The answer is ‘No’. If you are not following someone whose tweets are protected, you will not be able to see their tweets even if they are sent directly to you. Hope that helps.

  • runnrgrl said,

    A follower sent me a link to this article. This evening, I have been debating and discussing the pros + cons of changing my account to protected. You see for me, I love twitter because i have found a rich and robust community of runners and athletes around the world. I have a very public profile in the real world so i protect my real name. I also block local followers that I know. Its odd but its true – simply because i do not want any association between my tweets and my professional life. I also have a very well known family. Being anonymous has served me well and i’ve *met* so many terrific people. I love the opportunity to express myself on my blog as well so the two are related.

    However lately, i’ve been receiving alot of unwanted attention/comments from men – the creepers. its starting to get to me. one local fellow who i know and see everyday and who i’ve asked to not try to follow me by email has now tried three times. I just blocked him again. So, this situation has made me rethink the openness of my tweets although i am anonymous.

    havent’ decided yet, but i’m thinking about it.
    thanks for the opportunity to give another perspective. children are vulnerable and so too are all of us from sinister or unwanted attentions. its a tough one because i love 99% of the ppl i talk to on twitter.

  • Tahirah said,

    Twitter settings under “Account” state that “future” tweets will be protected,so I’m not surprised that you were able to see tweets Gabe, or did you see some of those “future” tweets also? I’ve been getting a lot of bots lately so i’m protecting my tweets for now and doing the tedious task of look at the requested user’s timeline before i accept their request. Most likely i’ll unprotect my acct later, it’s just annoying

  • Gabe said,

    Hi Tahirah,

    It’s been a while since I wrote this post so I am not sure of the answer. The bottom line is that I wrote it a year ago and still get people finding it by typing in “how to read protected tweets”. This tells me that people are for whatever reason still very interested in reading these tweets. You may want to search that term and test if the methods still work. But if you are doing it only to ward bots off, I would bet that will do the trick.

  • Peter Bryenton said,

    Thanks for this article.

    I protect my Tweets because there are laws in the UK which apply to my highly privileged position as a teacher of vulnerable children. I need to be seen to adhere to a professional code of conduct which is beyond reproach. That means managing my on line presence as carefully as I can. For this reason I chose to close my Facebook account recently.

  • Miz Kellie said,

    See.. I have never ever protected my tweets before. I have over 4,000 followers and I try to follow just about anyone whom I would be interested in as well as some of the most popular celebrities that I am interested with. I currently follow 1,000 tweeties. I’m told I am a “Twitter Celebrity” and since most of my fans believe in this so much, I have found myself accepting it. I am an Entertainer, an Actress and I’m also a big deal in the Music Industry.. and all of my followers know that I tweet SO much that it lands me in Twitterjail. I just recently protected my tweets because of a STALKER boyfriend. : ) Make sure you follow me!

  • Gabe said,

    Sorry to hear about your boyfriend Miz Kellie. Good luck.

  • Miz Kellie said,

    I meant Ex-Boyfriend duh! Lol its okay Gabe! But I do want to say, although my tweets are protected, I’m worth that click for a friend request. My tweets will be public again some day soon, this is just a publicity stunt and to keep these stalker ex’s away! N I found this post by searching google, I was trying to find out if someone DOES send me a request where will I receive it?

  • Gabe said,

    Well you’ll find out soon ’cause I just sent you one. :-)

  • Sammzz said,

    So does it mean if my account is protected all the celebs I am following will have to follow me back so that they can read my tweet… If they don’t they won’t be able to see @reply or @mention??

  • Gabe said,

    Yes that’s how it works. See the explanation here:

    If it makes you feel any better, most celebs won’t read tweets coming non-famous guys like us anyway. :-)

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