Category Archives: Security

Protected Twitter Accounts – Protected from what?

Is your Twitter stream Public or Protected? I am not here to tell you which one is should be (mine is Public), but when you protect your stream a few interesting things happen.

First is a protected stream really protected? I would say No, while your tweets are not publicly available there is nothing stopping your followers (you know the ones you approved) from retweeting your tweet. Sure if you are using the Twitter web interface the retweet option is not available for protected tweets, and I did recently notice that if you use the Official Twitter apps for Android, Blackberry, or iPhone they also do not provide a retweet option for protected tweets but other clients do.

Tweetdeck for example does warn you when you are retweeting a tweet from Protected account, but won’t actually prevent you from doing it.

A picture named M2

On top of all this we are really only discussing the New Style Retweet there is nothing that can ever stop you from cutting and pasting a tweet and preceding it with RT.

The point of all this of course is that unless you have no followers (or maybe a very small number of followers who you know personally) can you really be sure that what is in your protected stream stays private? I highly doubt it.

Moving on if we put security aside, lets look other impacts of Protecting a twitter stream. Your tweets are excluded from Twitter Search, so when I am searching a term or hashtag, you might have information for me, but I am never going to find it, or be able to include it in a Tweet Bundle, or bring it in to a blog post using a tool like Blackbird Pie (used to generate HTML embed codes for Tweets).

One other oddity of a protected account is you can only reply to people who follow you, well that’s not exactly what the help says, it reads

“@replies sent to people who aren’t following you will not be seen”

Which makes me believe you can actually send the reply it will just never be seen.

So I wonder if you do have a protected twitter account why? I can’t really believe it is for privacy or security (and if it is you might want to rethink your tweets. I know there are specific use cases for protected accounts, I just wonder why people choose to protect their personal Twitter streams.

Twitter Help: About Public and Protected Accounts