Platform Building 209: Twitter Safety

Janalyn Voigt continues her series on platform building.

Writers carry on a sometimes uneasy truce with lack of privacy nowadays. I’ll give some tips here for use with Twitter, but they apply to Facebook and Forums as well. I don’t mean to make you paranoid, but urge you to use wisdom while online.

1) Post a Creative Picture. You should post a picture of some kind in Twitter. Many people won’t follow you if you display the Twitter default icon. But, if you are concerned about others having a photo of you, upload one showing only part of your face. You could do this by zooming in, wearing a hat, or aiming the camera (or cropping your photo) to position yourself partly out of the frame.

I had to laugh when a Facebook friend of mine spoofed this trend by posting an extreme close up of his eye. It’s popular for writers with published books to display their book covers instead of their faces. I’ve heard objections to doing this because people want to connect with you first and your book second.

Sometimes authors pose with their books open as if reading them, thus covering the lower part of the face. This can look cute. Do what seems right to you. I personally don’t find posting my picture online a huge concern.

2) Don’t Give a Specific Location in Your Profile. Do fill out a profile for yourself because, again, many people automatically won’t follow you if you don’t have one. Most of us can be traced online nowadays, but why make it easy for someone to locate you? I give a vague and well-populated general location for myself only. Or you could leave location out entirely. Really, who needs to know?

3) Don’t Give a Specific Location for an Outing. Don’t tweet about where you’re going and when. You don’t want to tell the world that you’re meeting friends at “Ivers” in downtown Seattle. Do you really want to broadcast your whereabouts? Save remarks about the great time you had with friends for when you return home. When I go to a meeting, I don’t post about it until after I’m home.

4) Don’t Tell the World that You’re Home Alone. Your husband might be out of town, but do you really want to announce you’re home alone while he’s away? Wait until he’s home, and then declare how much you missed him.

5) Don’t Announce That Your House is Standing Empty. “We’re having a great time on vacation. I hope the dog is happy at the boarder’s and that the neighbors pick up the mail.” This might sound ludicrous, but my point is that Twitter users sometimes forget the reach of their audience.

6) Don’t Mention That You Live Alone. This one is self-explanatory.

7) Block Anyone Who Makes You Uncomfortable. It’s possible to block a Follower from receiving your Tweets or seeing you online. Just to provide a perspective, I’ve yet to use this feature in Twitter.

My disclaimer: Remember when approaching all social networking, don’t be fearful, but do use wisdom. My best advice is to be aware. Your personal safety is always your responsibility.


Spend a little time this week familiarizing yourself with Twitter.


This post appeared March 9, 2010 on Author Haven. Used by kind permission.

Janalyn Voigt writes  novel books.

“Flower of Life” by Janalyn Voigt, in THE BOOK OF SYLVARI, Summer 2011.

DAWNSINGER, book one of her TALES OF FAERAVEN trilogy, will release with Port Yonder press in Autumn 2011.

Other publication credits include Focus on the Family, Scripture Press and Pentecostal Evangel. Janalyn is affiliated with ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and has been a NCWA member since 2008.  Visit her website.


6 thoughts on “Platform Building 209: Twitter Safety

  1. This is all good advice, but:
    My name evidently got on a dating site. As a senior citizen I don’t care about romantic entanglements. A young man approached me to become his romantic interest on Facebook. Even when I told him my age, he continued in ways I found offensive. I felt glad that there was half a country between us, unlike the man who called me beautiful at the grocery store. I’m not beautiful but decided he must have a person in his life that he has a flirtatious relationship with who looked like me before he took a good look. We were both embarrassed and he scared me a lot more than the Facebook person. I blocked him. I couldn’t block the grocery-store Romeo. Are we really in any more danger online than anywhere else?


  2. Thanks for commenting, Pat.

    I’m sorry you had those experiences. As far as your question goes, I’d be far more nervous of someone who confronted me in person. Hopefully without alarming you, I should mention that nowadays it’s difficult if not impossible to keep your address off the internet. Although my post focuses on internet safety, I believe we should protect our privacy and safety on and off the Web. It’s not an either/or.


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