Social Network Spotlight: Twitter
Twitter is the king of what is know as “microblogging.” Tweets are comprised of 140 characters, can contain links, images and videos, and can be shared publicly or to a chosen group privately.
The amount of time it takes to create or respond to a tweet is minimal, allowing for quick interaction, making it an easy staple of everyone’s day.
- Interaction is fast and easy, making the task of sharing and being shared with easier than other social networks.
- A user’s experience can be very private and personal if desired.
- Twitter hides private users from search, doesn’t allow posts from private accounts to be shared (retweeted), and shares no information regarding private accounts on other users’ timelines.
- Connecting and even communicating with celebrities, sports figures, and actors is easy.
- Some schools are embracing Twitter use between teacher and student.
- A Twitter account can be entirely public, revealing personal information to anyone.
With such little barrier to entry, there are many spam accounts related to pornography.
- Signup requires such little information, anyone can make an account for any use in just minutes.
- Twitter is a go-to network for many people looking to do harm in one way or another.
- With direct messaging, users can privately communicate with strangers only by following them.
- Tweets can be geotagged, which shows any viewer’s location. Twitter is a very “in-the- moment” network, which could reveal dangerous information to someone’s followers or all Twitter users.
- With such a large user base, reporting abuse is often difficult.
Tips for educators
- Keeping a Twitter account private insures tweets are not seen, searchable or linked to by any user.
- You are able to view who a user is following—or who is following the user—at any time on any app or web browser.
- A user can follow an account without sharing any information with that user and remaining private. This is the safest way to follow another user.
- Disable location services where applicable and make sure the user does not opt to include location data with any tweet.
- Using the “Notifications” tab in the mobile or browser version displays any interaction other users have had with the account.
- Important links:
Twitter has very little barrier to entry allowing accounts to be created quickly. Social networks like these are prime real estate for abusers of any and all kinds. If an account is locked down as private and is routinely monitored, it can be a relatively safe place, but unless the adult doing the monitoring is an expert, it’s not advisable to allow unlimited access to Twitter.