Twitter - safety and privacy

How to protect your Twitter account from hackers

Twitter can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, and keep abreast of what’s going on in the world. However, as with all online platforms, there are a few risks - such as hackers, who attempt to take control of people's accounts in order to misuse them.

This guide will help you understand hacking so you can take steps to avoid it. You may want to pass it on to your friends - the more of us that are aware of how hackers operate, the more we can do to prevent them.

The most common form of hacking on Twitter network comes in the form of direct messages. You can only be sent direct messages by someone you’ve chosen to follow, so these messages might seem trustworthy. However, if a friend’s account is hacked, you may receive direct messages with short, vague content, such as:

  • hey someone is making really bad blogs about you here
  • PowerSlim - The Next Diet Miracle!
  • Dude I ACTUALLY GOT ONE! 
  • I cant believe u let someone take this pic of u!
  • Hey This You
  • LOL Look at this
  • Take an IQ Test 

These messages often have links in them. If you are less than 100% sure about a direct message you’ve received, DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK. It may lead to a phishing site, designed to trick you into giving away your username and password or the site may be full of virus and malware designed to steal your personal data.

Always double check you are on Twitter.com if you arrive at a site that looks like Twitter.com through a link on Twitter - it's easy to be tricked by someone who’s made a copycat site to steal your information and compromise your account. If your account is compromised, you may start sending out the same messages you received to your friends, so it’s best to avoid those links.

How to stop Twitter spam

Just seeing a compromised Tweet or direct message will not infect you, but clicking the link will certainly raise your chances of being infected - particularly if you enter your username and password into a compromised site. The best thing to do is delete the message and, if it came from a friend, inform them their account has been hacked.

To help keep your account safe, always log out once you’ve finished using Twitter, whether using it on a computer or mobile device. It’s also a good idea to change your password from time to time.

What to do when your Twitter account has been hacked

If yours or a friend's account has been hacked, just log in and change your password. This locks out the server that is using your account to send the messages.

If you can't login to your account because the password has been changed you can go to the Twitter home page and request a new password by selecting ‘Forgot password’. This will trigger a reset and send a new password to the email address you used to register the account. You should also take a look in your Connected Apps in your account settings and remove any apps you have connected your Twitter account to, it's possible a rogue app is what's causing all your problems. 

How to remove yourself from a Twitter list

Twitter "lists" give every user a way to group together Twitter users under one or more titles. For instance, you might have a list of "Local friends" or "Music bloggers" and then assign particular followers to the more appropriate list. Lists are public and will show up on your Twitter Profile so you can see whose list you are on. Other Twitter users can then follow another user’s list if they like the look of it.

However, if you are using a public profile, anyone can choose to add you to a list and you won’t have a say in the names those lists are given. This could mean you end up in a list with an unpleasant or inappropriate name against your will.

To remove yourself from someone’s list, simply block the person who created it. If you want to keep following that person, or allow them to follow you, you can then unblock them. You will still be removed from the list, and will be able to follow the account if you want to.

Bullying on Twitter

If you are concerned about bullying or trolling on Twitter, please see our pages on cyber-bullying on the Bullying UK website.

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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