I 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.