I used to have a private twitter account, and I also used to (and continue to) heavily recommend new users start with a private twitter account. During #eduweb09 I “unprotected” my tweets as I usually do during conferences (meeting new people! sharing!), and never ended up re-protecting. (I also turned off auto-direct-messages to new followers – it’s just gotten tacky in my context, whether or not it’s still OK for brands etc is something I’d argue/discuss).
“Protecting” your tweets almost gives you a sense of false security. Anyone that has access to your tweets can easily retweet your content, even if you are protected. They just copy your words and paste them into a new tweet with RT @your-username. There just hasn’t been any way of stopping this! (And still there still isn’t). My favourite example of just how weak privacy is on Twitter is when @bradjward announced my new leg tattoo to the audience of his workshop at #eduweb08 – good thing I’m in marketing & not accounting?
Karlyn Morissette (marketing strategist, higher ed web geek, speaker, consultant; also known as @karlynm) recently tweeted about the topic of twitter protected accounts and we ended up running a little experiment to test out the new retweet format.
Twitter.com removes the “retweet” button on protected tweets!
Tweetdeck (Adobe Air/Desktop) warns you when you are about to retweet a protected tweet!
Seesmic just lets you keep going as usual.
Anyone with access to a protected user’s tweets can still blab/repeat those tweets all over the internet (similar to how they can bring them up in conversation, text a friend, mention in an email or wall post). BUT now to do so, twitter.com users have to get manual instead of the nice easy retweet button – which means they will have to intentionally work around the person’s privacy, and tweetdeck users are getting hit with a note about the privacy line they are about to cross. Big picture result: heightened awareness of a previously low-profile privacy glitch & hopefully fewer retweets of protected content.