Stay safe, have fun.
Twitter is a thrilling place for teens. You can follow celebrities close enough to step on their digital heels. You can be the first of your friends to make a gif that goes viral. You can set up an account where you pretend to be a pop star crossed with a philosopher — or even your dad’s ten-gallon hat. Inanimate objects can have a voice, too, you know. Of course, all of this fun assumes that you’re using Twitter safely. Below are a few guidelines to help you do just that.
Privacy and security are important topics, especially because by default, anyone — yes, anyone — can see your Tweets. We’re going to break down our privacy and security settings so you can take control of your experience. Take a look at the following articles:
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How are you using Twitter? A friendly reminder: Twitter is 100% public. Anyone with an Internet connection can see your Tweets, whether or not they have an account. If you want only your followers to see your timeline, all you have to do is protect your Tweets. Then, make sure that you’re cool with everyone who follows you.
- What kind of sharing is legit? Photos of your family adventure to the beach or a museum’s grand reopening are just fine to share. If you’re going to tag someone in a photo, ask them first. But there’s stuff that you obviously shouldn’t share — like, ever. There’s the obvious items, such as Social Security/national identification numbers, passwords, or credit card numbers. Then there are things that aren’t as obvious but could wreak just as much havoc: addresses, phone numbers, or intimate pics or videos. Have you Tweeted anything like this? If so, you might consider deleting it.
- So, why does this matter? Whether it’s on Twitter or elsewhere, everything you post on the Internet reflects on you. The good news is that you have control over what you Tweet. So ask yourself, what would someone think of your Tweet a few years from now? What might a relative, a college admissions officer, or a prospective employer think about your Tweet?
- But what if someone posts something private about me? If someone has posted any of your private information (think phone numbers, home addresses or credit cards — stuff you’d never share), and you want it taken down, take a second to review our policy about private information posted on Twitter. Then, kindly ask them to remove it; they usually will. If the content violates our policy and the account owner refuses to remove it, file a report.
If you see something that upsets you, if someone’s trying to start a fight with you, or if someone just won’t stop bothering you, remember that there are many ways to resolve issues on Twitter, such as muting or blocking. Here are some tips:
- Remember the Golden Rule. Treat others as you’d like to be treated. Seek to understand, not just to be understood.
- Take a step back. Tweets are short. Like this. If a Tweet doesn’t sound right or seems out of character, then take a moment to consider the context. A Tweet that strikes you as offensive or downright nasty might lose its sting when read as part of the larger conversation.
- Everyone’s a critic. Everyone on Twitter has a right to an opinion. And since everyone else means hundreds of millions of opinions, there’s bound to be some disagreement. There’s nothing wrong with healthy debate, either, so long as it’s actually healthy. If a debate escalates into an argument, it’s often best to walk away. If that doesn’t work, use tools like mute or block to control the situation.
- Mute other accounts. Mute is a gentle way of dealing with bothersome accounts without blocking them. This is especially helpful in situations when someone is posting a lot of Tweets that may not interest you. For example, if you’ve had it with someone Tweeting about your favorite team losing hard, all you have to do is mute the account. Don’t worry: the account user can’t see that they’ve been muted. And if you change your mind, you can unmute the account any time you want. Questions? We’ve written a detailed article about using mute.
- Block other accounts. Blocking cuts ties with an account you follow or that follows you. Let’s say that someone keeps Tweeting unwanted comments and you no longer want them to be able to view your timeline, send you a message, tag you in photos, or reply to you, or add mentions that appear in your notifications tab: use block for that. With the exception of search, blocking ends any kind of interaction you could have with another account. It’s a sure-fire way of dealing with accounts you don’t want anything to do with, but you can unblock them at any time. Questions? We’ve prepared a detailed article about using block.
In addition to the Twitter-specific tips above, here a few general insights about bullying and further advice about how to handle it:
- Bullies often don’t think they’re bullies. In fact, friends are more likely to harass one another than complete strangers. Most of the time, bullies do what they do to because they’re seeking power and status. In other words, many aren’t happy with who they are right now.
- Bullying online often has its roots offline. What has changed is that the Internet gives bullies new tools to play old tricks. As a result, bullying can move seamlessly between a classroom and a smartphone. If this is happening to you, don’t just follow the steps above; talk to an adult you trust — like a family member or teacher — who can help you handle the situation.
- Help create a safe space. Whatever the case, it’s never easy to be the target of online abuse. If you know someone affected by such abuse, don’t turn a blind eye. Instead, offer to help by telling them about Twitter’s policies and features designed to handle harassment (i.e., all the stuff you’ve learned on this page). When appropriate, help them contact a trusted adult who can help handle the situation. You can also report abuse and harassment on their behalf.
- Learn from the pros. You might also want to reach out to organizations that specialize in managing online safety issues, such as bullying, harassment, and privacy violations. These organizations are listed on our Resources page.