To protect or not to protect?
I threw this out to the Twitterverse for discussion yesterday:
Considering unlocking my tweets. Feeling apprehensive about it though for the usual reasons. Thoughts?
When I signed up to Twitter back in July 2010, I joined with the purpose of connecting with other teachers and people in the field of education. Following the odd tweeting celebrity was definitely more of a by product of the whole experience for me. With that in mind, I decided to tweet by the rule that I would only tweet things that I would feel comfortable with any member of staff, parent or pupil reading. To this day, I think I have stuck by that philosophy successfully. Yet not long after signing up to Twitter, I decided to change my account settings from the default of public tweets to protected ones. Twitter defines these as:
- Public Tweets (the default setting) are visible to anyone, whether or not they have a Twitter account
- Protected Tweets may only be visible to previously approved Twitter followers
A sense of security
So why did I feel the need to make this change so early on? Even now, I can’t give you a definitive answer, but I think it felt ‘safer’ to have them protected. A little odd perhaps considering I had not experienced any Twitter-related issues that meant I needed or wanted to feel safer. However, I think having to approve my followers manually gave me a sense of security. In reality though, is this actually the case? The key word there is ‘sense’. One tweeter suggested:
a protected account doesn’t protect you from anything.
I have been merrily tweeting away in a protected fashion for well over a year and had no real problem with this so why change now? Well, the other day I tweeted this in response to Miles Berry‘s tweet about teaching being a job that has a moral purpose:
@mberry It does. It’s not my job description that holds me accountable really; it’s my responsibility to my chn
Miles tweeted back that if my account wasn’t set to private he would have retweeted it because it was a key message. That made me stop and think: what a shame that someone felt I had posted something worthy of re-sharing, but they could not easily do so. Doesn’t that contradict the whole purpose of why I am on Twitter anyway? Yes, they could copy and paste it manually and put RT in front of it, but then if I am comfortable with people doing that, why I am protecting my tweets in the first place?
The Twitterverse has spoken
The response I got to my initial question , as expected, was a mixed bag, but I would say the overwhelming majority of people felt that they preferred having public tweets. Interestingly, even people who had had negative experiences involving tweets being taken out of context, misconstrued and used against them still preferred to tweet openly. A selection of the responses:
I have never locked mine – never had any issues, ok get spam mentions but just block the sender.
mine are not protected and it is always in the back of my mind to watch what I tweet, but we are allowed opinions
Let’s hope you don’t tweet about *any* aspect of your life. A parent might read, take offence, complain leading to who knows what
mine are unlocked, never had any comeback. I think as long as you don’t tweet anything offensive then you should be ok
I wanted to [unlock] a while ago but thought better of it as anything you say in 145 characters can be taken out of context!
Should policy dictate the access to *personal* social media accounts? I’m unlocked, and even followed by a parent!
public tweets are ok as long as you are careful. Doesn’t need a policy – protected under employment law
protecting stops me retweeting you
I protected my tweets after a pupil tried to follow me
I do keep an eye out 4 new followers and block any 1 don’t think are appropriate etc as yet not had pupil follow
I protect mine to stop trolls and those with friends in high places seeing what I think 🙂
you know I’ve had problems but I still prefer unlocked. I felt locked stopped me contacting ppl & inhibits sharing
I locked after an issue with someone searching for me for negative reasons but prefer unlocked. Also abide with
@simfin ‘s advice on not being negative or controversial on here I try 2 avoid dischord
I’m unlocked, say what I feel and will continue to do so. I block when trolled.
Never understood need to block-I don’t believe you say anything remotely controversial but also opens up ability 2RT ur gr8 tweets
I have considered everybody contributions, which I am very grateful for because it really helped to clarify things, and have decided to unlock my tweets at this point in time.
There are three main reasons for this. First of all, I don’t think protecting your tweets actually gives you any real protection at all. When someone requests to follow me, I do check who they are, e.g. read their Twitter bio, and if it says they are something to do with education I accept their request. If there is no bio at all, I don’t and if they are a pupil, I block them (this happened once). Simple as that. However, this doesn’t mean I really know who they are at all so I am still not safe to tweet any old thing I like in their presence. Protected tweets would really only be protected if I personally knew every single person I allowed to follow me and could ensure they would never copy and paste anything I posted. This brings me on to my second reason: I think protecting your tweets can actually lull you into a false sense of security, which is potentially even more dangerous than having public tweets. Just because your tweets are protected does that mean you don’t have to give what you tweet a second thought? No, absolutely not, but it can be easy to slip into that mindset. Lastly, and most importantly, I think protecting tweets inhibits retweeting and sharing, which is the whole point of why I am a tweeting teacher in the first place.
So yes, my tweets will be public until I find a reason to reconsider my standpoint on this again. I will carry on thinking carefully about what I tweet, but perhaps even more carefully than I did before, which can only be a positive thing in my eyes. That doesn’t mean that the tweets to Lisa Faulkner telling her about the latest recipe I’ve just tried from her cook book or ones including pictures of my lovely baby nephew will stop (I am only human, folks and he is incredibly cute), but I will be more aware and surely everyone could benefit from an extra dose of awareness now and again? We are all responsible for managing our online presence after all and that goes way beyond just protecting your tweets as @simfin explains so clearly in the video below.
What are your views on public and protected tweets and managing your online presence in general?
(Image: 30 days of gratitude- Day 26 by aussiegall)