How to Protect your Personal Information on Twitter

Twitter has enabled users to create accounts, whereby; they can hide behind an unknown username and display picture to post their feelings about issues that they feel passionate about. They offer a space whereby introverts may, under the guise of anonymity, feel they have somewhere to vent without fear of being judged by their peers in their everyday lives. But how protected is your identity on Twitter and how has the Data Protection Act 2018 affected Twitter’s Privacy Policy?


‘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.


Twitter has put disclaimers on their privacy policy by advising users that they are ‘responsible for their own Tweets and you should think carefully about what information you share’ ⁵. This could deviate any possible blame away from the site itself, if you accidentally reveal information that could make you identifiable, such as your real name. Twitter cannot accept liability if you slip up and give away details about yourselves, it is down to personal responsibility. Making sure what you are tweeting does not give away any potential personal identifiers about yourself could increase the chances of your privacy being maintained.


‘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.


To conclude, Twitter is a great tool for reaching a wider audience regarding long-held views you may hold that affect a variety of people. However, if you do not want to reveal yourself to these same people, you must ensure you are taking the necessary steps to protect yourself. This may include a cryptic username or disabling your location when sending out your tweets. Your Twitter persona may be your favoured way of being opinionated, without feeling the need to make small talk, like you may need to do in real-life. The Data Protection Act 2018 has clearly influenced Twitter’s Privacy Policy, when it comes to protecting your personal details online.


 

¹ GOV.UK, Data Protection: The Data Protection Act <https://www.gov.uk/data-protection> accessed 16 January 2022


² Twitter.com, Privacy Policy: Twitter Privacy Policy (19 August 2021) <https://twitter.com/en/privacy> 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


⁵ Twitter.com, Privacy Policy: Twitter Privacy Policy (19 August 2021) <https://twitter.com/en/privacy> accessed 16 January 2022


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

11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Studying law internationally is extremely common. Who wouldn’t love to get their degree while travelling? But the question is – what...

Being a second-year law student is the definition of stress. The endless readings with no reading week. The need to start looking for...