How to Keep Your Twitter Account Safe

Welcome to Part 3 of my 4-part series about fighting back against spam! If you missed the previous two parts in this Tips for Fighting Spam Series, you can view them using the links at the bottom of this post.

Twitter is one of my favourite places to fight back against spammers. Not only is it often easy to spot spammers on Twitter, you also have a way to report them. Here are 5 really easy ways to keep your Twitter account safe and fight back against spammers!

1. Don’t Feel Obligated to Follow Back:

It’s always nice to get a new follower on Twitter, but there’s no rule saying that you have to follow back. Before you follow someone back, go check out their Twitter feed to see if they’re posting legitimate tweets. If the Twitter account is only posting one link over and over again, it’s probably a spammer (or someone who really hasn’t caught on to Twitter yet, in which case, you might not want to follow them anyway). Do your research before you follow back and you’ll help dilute the power spammers have on Twitter; just like bullies in the school yard, if they’re not getting attention, they’ll go bug someone else.

2. Don’t Click Links in Direct Messages (DMs) Unless You’re Sure They’re Legit:

This is where Twitter spam gets complicated. Often spammers who have gained access to Twitter users’ account will send out a rash of messages that might read something like, “LOL check out this funny pic of you: [link that will open you to spammers].” The trickiest part about these messages is that they might come from a friend’s account, or might seem legitimate. Spammers are smart: they’ll often go after our innate human curiosity (who wouldn’t want to see a funny picture of themselves?). If you’re in doubt, don’t click the link, and if you’re really curious, send a message back to your Twitter friend asking if the link is legit.

 3. Report Spammers:

Twitter has notoriously had problems with spammers — in fact, they’ve taken some of them to court — so they have created ways for the good guys (you and me) to report spammers for them to investigate. If you’re certain you’ve happened upon a spammer, you can report them to Twitter for further investigation. I’m not sure how effective this is, or how much time the folks at Twitter have to look into spammers, but it sure makes me feel better. Here’s how to report a spammer on Twitter:

  • Click on the spammer’s Twitter account and then click on the little person/profile icon.
  • In the drop down menu, you’ll see the option to ‘Block’ or ‘Report for Spam’.
  • If you choose ‘Report for Spam,’ you’ll block the person AND report them for spam.

4. Change your Password on the Regular:

As always, changing your Twitter password regularly and creating strong passwords will go a long way towards keeping your account safe. In fact, if you only do one thing to protect your account, it should be this.

5. Lend a Hand:

When you suspect that a Twitter friend’s account has been compromised, let them know! It only takes a few seconds to send them a tweet or DM letting them know they sent you a weird link or that they are posting odd tweets. This can stop the spread of the spammy links or password phishing schemes even faster, and allow your Twitter friend to take the necessary steps to fix their account.

More Resources:

You can find even more ways to keep your Twitter account safe in the Twitter Help Center.

In case you missed the previous posts in this series:

Part 1Tips For Fighting Spam (across all platforms)
Part 2How to Reduce Spam Comments on Your WordPress Blog

How about you? Have you run into lots of spammers on Twitter? Have any tips for keeping your account safe?

Author: Carrie Mumford

Carrie Mumford is a writer and content manager living in Calgary, Alberta. She write short stories and non-fiction articles, and blogs about technology, editing, writing and (of course) books.

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