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Twitter Private Accounts Aren't As Private As You Thought

A Twitter bug which allowed thousands of protected Tweets to be viewed by the public has finally been fixed — after affecting 93,788 accounts for a period of four months.

The bug meant that users could receive updates from protected accounts, without being approved, via SMS and push notifications. Private users found themselves with followers who they hadn’t approved, with their private tweets no longer quite so private.

Twitter claims that all affected users have been notified. But is that enough? Does an alert, or an apology, make it all okay?

If you have a private account, there’s probably a reason for it — either you want to keep your personal and professional life separate, you only want to communicate with those close to you, or you’re concerned about online privacy.

And those are all great reasons to protect your Tweets, but if your privacy is then compromised, where does that leave you? Hoping that your boss — or your psycho ex — didn’t see, probably.

Unfortunately, there’s really not much else you can do, apart from be more careful in future. Private Tweets aren’t always private. Even if hacks and bugs never happened, your approved followers could still take screenshots of your Tweets and share those online.

Whatever you Tweet, and however careful you are about privacy, there will always be the chance that your Tweets will show up elsewhere on the Web. The same goes for anything you post on the Internet.

A Twitter bug can compromise your online privacy, your reputation, and your professional life. If a potential employer sees unprofessional content on your feed, they’re not going to know (or care) that you thought your Tweets were private.

And can you risk that? Is it worth it? If you can’t bear the consequences of your private content going public, then perhaps you should think twice before posting it on social media.

You can find Mary C. Long on Twitter or connect with her here.