A decade ago the world was Twitter-less – no Tweeted birthday greetings, Oscar selfies, real-time presidential announcements or calls for prayers. But neither did we have vile trolls and defacement Tweets on hacked accounts of public figures.
Twitter changed the way 332 million active users communicate online. But it also fueled serious privacy debates, as every Tweet further dilutes the concept of online privacy. In an attempt to balance content over-sharing and cyber-security, Twitter has implemented several measures that play a key role in enhancing account security, encouraging socializing best practices and protecting its users from cyber-harassment.
1. In 2011, in a bid to protect user accounts from hijacking, Twitter made encryption available by enabling the “always use HTTPS” feature from the settings section of the site.
“This will improve the security of your account and better protect your information if you’re using Twitter over an unsecured internet connection, like a public Wi-Fi network, where someone may be able to eavesdrop on your site activity,” Twitter said in a blog post
2. Twitter rolled out two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security on top of account passwords.
3. In 2014, it launched an improved password reset mechanism to make logins easier. The process lets users associate an email address or phone number with their account to receive reset information.
4. Twitter worked to better identify suspicious logins by looking at things like location, device used and login history.
“If we identify a login attempt as suspicious, we’ll ask you a simple question about your account — something that only you know — to verify that your account is secure before granting access,” Twitter said. “We’ll also send you an email to let you know that we’ve detected unusual activity so you can update your password if need be.”
5. A mass blocking feature was implemented to make blocking multiple accounts easier as it works on additional user controls to boost security. Users can export and share block lists with people who face similar issues or import another user’s list into their accounts and block multiple accounts at once, instead of blocking them individually
6. In July 2015, Twitter introduced a new data dashboard, a tool to better monitor and manage user accounts. The dashboard shows account activation details, the devices that have accessed user accounts and recent login history.
7. The Anomaly Detection tool is an open-source tool software developers can use to detect various types of anomalies on its platform. Anomalies might occur on Twitter during, say, a breaking news story, or the final episode of a cult TV show.
“This package helps us monitor spikes in user engagement on the platform surrounding holidays, major sporting events or during breaking news,” the company said. “The package can be used to find such bots or spam, as well as detect anomalies in system metrics after a new software release.
8. Reporting abusive tweets has also become easier with under-the-hood improvements to the tools used to review reported Tweets and accounts.
“Everything that happens in the world, happens on Twitter – to the tune of more than 500 million Tweets every day. That can sometimes include content that violates our rules around harassment and abuse and we want to make it easier to report such content,” said Shreyas Doshi, Director of Product Management and User Safety.
9. Recently, Twitter announced the possibility of banning fake profiles to help prevent online abuse against women and girls.
“Social media is increasingly being used as a tool against women and I think it is really positive that Twitter is going to be training our lawyers in the months ahead,” Chief Crown Prosecutor Jenny Hopkins told the Guardian.
10. Twitter warned users of state sponsored hacking – the company sent out notices to users whose usernames, IP addresses, and email addresses and phone numbers are suspected of compromise from an attacker believed to be working on behalf of a nation-state.
These security features are great, but ultimately, security is a shared responsibility – users need to do their part to keep their account as safe as possible. Here’s a quick guide on how to strengthen your Twitter security. Stay safe!