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Tweet Smarter with 5 Twitter Safety Tips

written by: Amber Neely•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 4/22/2012

Twitter has exploded in popularity since it launched in 2006, but as with all social networking sites, a certain amount of common sense should be used when tweeting. This article will showcase five Twitter safety tips, as well as show you how to turn off tweet location, and turn on tweet privacy.

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    Tip #1: Turn Off Twitter's Location Feature

    Earlier this summer, Twitter launched a feature that would use either your cellphone's signal or your computer's IP address to provide an approximate location of where you are at the bottom of your tweets. In some cases, Twitter can actually pinpoint your exact location, and even map it out for others.

    While this is a fun feature when you're traveling or on vacation (or as Twitter suggests, letting people know where there's an ice cream truck or even quicksand), you might not want to let everyone know where you work or live. The option is off by default, but if you've turned it on, there's a chance you've forgotten about it. To turn it off, simply access the settings page on Twitter and uncheck the box next to "Tweet Location." Twitter also has an option to delete all location information if you suddenly feel like going off radar.

    Turn Off Location Settings 

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    Tip #2: Be Aware of Your Third Party Apps & Features

    One of the smartest things you can do is be aware of what third party apps you've let (or are about to let) access your Twitter account. Facebook users should be veterans of this, because this is essentially the same concept as picking and choosing what Facebook apps can post to your walls.

    When you partake of a third party Twitter application, you'll often be asked if you're okay with it accessing your Twitter. This means that you're willingly giving it permission to post to your Twitter at the very least. While Twitter has taken steps to reduce the use of malicious applications taking hold of your account with OAuth, the best offense is still a good defense. Use your brain and limit the amount of Twitter apps that you can find.

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    Tip #3: Beware the Spambot!

    Like all social networking sites, Twitter has its fair share of spambots, as well as account hijackers and potentially malicious links. There are two things that a person can do to avoid potential problems.

    The first is that you obviously shouldn't click any links from unknown users. Often times, a spambot or account hijacker will find a single keyword in a tweet, and send out a message that looks like "I saw you were talking about [keyword] and I thought you would like to see this: http://maliciousu.rl/whatever." That's exactly the type of thing you want to avoid. Simply check out their account and if you see that they've sent out a lot of tweets to other people in that format, block them and report them for spam.

    The second thing a person can do is get themselves a good antivirus and adblocker/malware remover program on their computer. This doesn't apply solely to Twitter users, but it's still a good thing to keep in mind.

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    Tip #4: Turn on Tweet Protection

    Twitter, like most social networking sites, allows you to hide your tweets from people who you do not follow. This is useful for those who use Twitter to keep in touch with friends, but aren't looking to use it to meet new people. The option is located in the account settings page on Twitter under "Tweet Privacy."

    Turn On Tweet Protection 

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    Tip #5: Tweet Smarter

    Remember that Twitter is a social networking site, and what you say there will be broadcast to all of your friends, and potentially hundreds of thousands of people across the world. Don't divulge sensitive information like phone numbers and house addresses, and you may even want to avoid using your first and last name if you're really worried about it.

    Also remember this: If you wouldn't say it in person to a crowd of people, you probably shouldn't say it on Twitter. Employers, family members, friends, and foes can all probably find your Twitter, after all!

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    Image Credits

    All screen shots were taken by Amber Neely and are intended for educational purposes only.