How To Be Safe On Twitter

I’ve been asked by several people to put together this article.  As such, if you would like to contribute to it, suggest improvements or changes, or even write a similar article for me to post, leave a comment and let me know!

So, you got yourself a Twitter account.  It is the big craze, after all!  But you’re not sure about all of the other Twitter users.  Or perhaps you want to keep an increased level of privacy around your account.

Well, this article, hopefully, will tell you how you can keep yourself safe on Twitter!

Now, why do we even need to consider Twitter safety?  Well, perhaps you want to keep your activity away from the public eye.  Perhaps you wish to keep yourself safe from possible predators or other ominous folks.

What are some ways that you can protect your tweets and privacy?

  1. Protect Your Tweets – You don’t have to have your tweets open to the public. There is a built in feature in your Twitter settings that lets you make them private.  The only way people can read your tweets is to be approved to follow you. This not only protects what you say but also who can read your tweets. This is the biggest step!
  2. Watch What You Tweet – This rule applies to anything you do online. With the increase in Twitter usage, it seems easier and easier to just post anything. Yet, that is exactly what you do not want to do!  Even if you have protected your tweets, do you want them to know about where you exactly live, or where you will be at an exact time?  It is always better to play it safe!
  3. Use The Block Function – Do you have some shady characters that are following you that you really don’t want to see what you write?  If you’re wary of certain followers, you can safely block them.  This isn’t a sure-fire way of keeping people away from your tweets, but it can help you manage trouble-users.
  4. Remember Your Audience – Even if you have protected your tweets, there is the potential that someone will re-tweet you. With that in mind, any of your tweets could potentially be made public. Therefore, if you’re going to tweet something, make sure that it is something you wouldn’t mind someone in the public seeing. This goes in line with point #2, but it still is different.

In the end, common sense is what wins out with Twitter.  Make sure that you’re always tweeting with your full thinking faculties.  Otherwise, you may find yourself embarrassed, frustrated, or worse.

It’s quite possible that I missed some options for privacy protection.  If I have, please leave a comment! As I stated at the beginning, I’d be willing to post guest articles as well, should anyone want to write additional material.

Twitter: The New IM?

I think this is a blog worthy of a little trip down memory lane.  All of this will take us on a cruise through the history of Instant Messaging.

Instant message has its roots before the days of the modern internet.  Some types were peer-to-peer, others had people connect to a central server or network.  IRC is one of those types, and it is something that is still quite popular in the interwebs today.

As computers became more ‘flashy‘ and graphical user interfaces (GUI) came on the scene, some of the more popular ones that we all know and love (or at least know) came about. These include ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger.  Once AOL’s hit the web, other branded IMs came up.  MSN, YIM, and a few other three lettered IMs that probably came up, too.

Well, each of those offer a service that allows you to chat with one or more people. They send a message, you respond.  It doesn’t get any easier to explain than that!

So, what about Twitter?

I know that I am guilty of using Twitter for IM-type purposes. All you need is a Twitter app and you may as well tell yourself you’re using an IM app.  And, before you even know it, you’re trapped.

It all starts with someone posting a very interesting link about images from the moon.  Before you know it, you and them are chatting back and forth, sending each other @replies without a care in the world.

This seems to be the habit of more and more people. Have you seen this yourself?  Have you checked Twitter, only to find that the past twelve minutes worth of tweets have been between two or three people, all replying to each other in rapid fire?

With more people using Twitter, this could possibly be a replacement IM system. However, before you go dumping Pidgin and load up Twhirl, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Replies aren’t private – Just because you thought it would be cool to send a message to @BrentSpiner doesn’t mean that only they will se it.  So, while you may think it’s cool to start messaging your friends, remember what you put in those messages. If it’s private data, you probably shouldn’t post it on Twitter at all, especially a reply.
  2. API Limits – No matter how fast you want your friends’ updates, you’re still limited. Twitter has a limit and, unless you want to sit on their web page and constantly refresh it, you won’t be getting true real time, or instant, messages.

Does Twitter have the potential to eventually be an IM service? It’s possible.  It would take some changes on their set up to allow for it, but it could be done.  Will it be done, though, is the question.  Their current setup seems to be popular enough as is, so major changes would probably not be in their best interest.

Now, that said, Twitter is still a very useful tool for pushing out information to people. After all, it is called a micro-blogging platform for a reason.

Are there ways you can make Twitter more useful? I’ll be writing about that coming up soon.

What do you think?  Does Twitter serve as your second IM?  How do you use Twitter?  Leave your comments below!

Blog Updated, And I Need Your Help!

I recently upgraded this blog to the latest WordPress version.  I had such a pain with it as I tracked down some issues I was having.  I’ll write more about that later.  But, for now, I’ll just say that, with that upgrade and troubleshooting, I had to change some things around.  Many plugins were reinstalled from scratch. So, to ensure that all is working right, I’m calling on all of you!

If you could, take a look through my blog and test things out.  If you find something broken, let me know!

Thank you!

Google Announce Google Chrome OS

In what seems like another big announcement today, Google has announced that they are working on a new operating system.  The Google Chrome OS is said to be different from Android and targeted towards netbooks.

It is little wonder that this new OS is targeted towards people that want to get online fast.  In fact, their blog post mentions the intention of the OS itself:

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web.

For someone that has seemed to do a good job at providing both a great internet search engine and a simple, straight-forward browser, it is no surprise that they are pointing towards the web as the platform for their applications.  And, what applications would one use on a netbook?  Documents? Spreadsheets? Google Docs covers that.  Email? Gmail has that down, too. What about talking with your friends online? Google Talk handles that.

“Alright,” some of you may be saying. “So you’re suggesting that Google does it all?”  Not necessarily.  There are times where you might find a need to chat with friends on Yahoo or MSN quickly, which is where a service such as Meebo can come in.  Or if you need to pop on IRC to get some Ubuntu support, you can use a variety of web-based solutions, including Mibbit.

Overall, this may lead to a very versatile application environment:

For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies.

With the web as your platform, that gives you quite a few options.  And, if we can assume that Google Chrome will be the standard browser in Google Chrome OS, then you’re looking at a fairly stable, smooth operating environment for your applications.  Plus, there’s the added benefit:

And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

If some app happens to stand out on Google Chrome OS, it is possible it either already exists on the web or would be easily available for the rest of us to use (should we not be using Google Chrome OS).

As people use the Internet more and more for work, communcation, and the overall sharing of ideas, simpler and smaller internet solutions may be required.  Netbooks cater to that audience.  And, given how Google Chrome itself has jumped into the browser pool, Google Chrome OS may make a similar splash with netbooks when it is released.

Share your views on this!  Leave a comment or send me a tweet about this post.

Gmail and Google Apps Come Out of Beta

Fresh, breaking news from @Google‘s blog: Google Apps, Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, Talk, they’re all coming out of beta.  After being in beta for over five years, Gmail now will be without those four little letters that we’ve all come to know and love.

What does this mean for those apps?  Is Google changing how they’re working on them?  Not really.  Here’s a quote from their blog:

“Beta” will be removed from the product logos today, but we’ll continue to innovate and improve upon the applications whether or not there’s a small “beta” beneath the logo.

So, all that is changing is the removal of ‘Beta’ from the logos, it seems.

What kind of impact might this have?  Honestly, I already think of Google as providing wonderfully useful apps and services.  The fact that they now no longer list it as beta doesn’t change much in my mind.  But it may make things look more professional to people, especially those that may not know how well Google makes things.

Either way, Gmail and Google Apps are still very useful, and I’m glad they’re sticking around!