‘The Data Protection Act 2018 allows you the right to:
Be informed about how your data is being used
Access personal data
Stop or restrict the processing of your data
Object to how your data is processed in certain circumstances’ ¹
Many of us may not take sufficient time to read the terms and conditions that must be agreed to before you are able to create your account. Once you have signed up on Twitter, with a public account, this means your ‘tweets are immediately viewable and searchable by anyone around the world’ ² This suggests you could have your tweets scrutinised by a variety of people; from students wanting to complete their dissertation into possible dangers of social media, to corporate companies wanting to collect customer feedback about a recent product that they have launched. The readiness and availability of this data may appeal to these groups of people.
When sending tweets via a public profile, you can make other users aware of your
location, which could compromise your privacy. Twitter allows you to ‘deactivate your Tweet Location’ ³ which is in line with being able to restrict the processing of your data, if users who view your tweets want to attach a location to the user. This may be done in instances where corporations want to adjust their marketing to appeal more to specific locations, whereby their marketing efforts do not seem to be making an impact in those areas. However, despite disabling your tweet location, it is believed that what you post can be used to guess your personal characteristics. ⁴ So, you may want to be careful about framing your tweets in a way that stops this from happening.
‘If you decide to protect your tweets, these will only be viewed by those users who are following you and they will not be able to retweet these tweets’ ⁶. This would decrease the chances of your opinion being shared to the wider population, but would improve your privacy on the site. Therefore, you may want to weigh what is most important to you and the reasons for you setting up your Twitter account. Do you want to use your account to bring attention to topical issues and engage in debates with people from all around the world? If so, having a private account would seriously restrict this, but on the other hand it would ensure you are well protected from possible data breaches.
¹ GOV.UK, Data Protection: The Data Protection Act <https://www.gov.uk/data-protection> accessed 16 January 2022
³ PC, 12 Tips for Staying Safe and Secure on Twitter (16 July 2020) < https://uk.pcmag.com/how-to/116765/12-tips-for-staying-safe-and-secure-on-twitter> accessed 16 January 2022
⁴ Rusert J, Khalid O, Hong D, Shafiq Z and Srinivasan P, ‘No Place to Hide: Inadvertent Location Privacy Leaks on Twitter’ (2019) 2019 172
⁶ Twitter.com, Help Center: About public and protected tweets < https://help.twitter.com/en/safety-and-security/public-and-protected-tweets> accessed 16 January 2022