Thursday, August 23, 2012

Who is following you? Tips to make you safer on Twitter

Have you ever looked at who is following you on Twitter?
Whether your personal or small business account, it is important to keep up with who is actually seeing what you post. Maybe it’s your competition, your regular customer, or RandomMan from RandomTown. Your ultimate goal is to have multiple followers, but are you being that effective if your followers aren’t even your target market, or are spammers? 

Did you know that about 40 percent of social media accounts were created by spammers?
That’s what Mark Risher told Bloomberg Businessweek in May. Risher is chief executive officer of Impermium, a company that sells anti-spam software.

While Twitter accounts are less personal than your Facebook profile, it is still important to be cautious of what you post and where.
Here are a few tips to be safer on Twitter.
First, take time every quarter to review your list of followers. Watch how many times a follower tweets. The most typical tweet for a spammer boils down to money -- the “get rich from working at home click on this link” is probably your average spammer. You can delete him or her by hovering over the “following” button to select “unfollow.”

What about the tweets that may be a little bit harder to justify?
For example, you read a tweet from your favorite musical artist about free tickets to a show -- all you have to do is click on the link and fill out the information. Before you click to win, make sure this is official Twitter page for the star.

Look for the blue check mark that can be found by the user’s name. This check mark is a symbol Twitter uses to inform tweeps (Twitter users) that the person is in fact who they say they are. The blue check is crucial for every Twitter account. 

Like other computer communication, be careful of the links you click.
Just because it goes through Twitter doesn’t automatically mean it is a safe site or a safe place to distribute information. Remember to always scroll down to the bottom of the screen and look for some type of security policy or icon.

Click on the icon to make sure the information you are about to submit is safe. As always, use extreme caution in giving out social security numbers, credit card numbers, email, passwords, and home addresses. 

If you find spammers on your list of followers, you can opt to block them. While logged into Twitter, go to the spammer’s profile page and look for the person icon on the top right. In the dropdown menu, select block. Don’t fall victim to spammers through your social media accounts and take time to purge them from your follower list.

The Texas Social Media Research Institute, based at Tarleton State University, is a cross-discipline collaboration focused on social media. Note: This post was originally published as a column in the the Stephenville Empire-Tribune and is reprinted with permission. Intern Brooke King authored this column.

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