Twitter is a fascinating social network; and perhaps the most controversial, leaving users more vulnerable than most other platforms might. Whether you are a high school student or a professional, Twitter is one of the more public and therefore searchable social media sites – and yet people are encouraged to use their real name and identity for it to work effectively. Unlike other platforms such as Facebook, where you can custom control who sees your content, or Instagram, where you often follow protocol and select a private account with a cutesy pseudonym, Twitter thrives on its immediacy and authentic exposure. It’s no wonder that this social network in particular has emerged a true global and political force filled with moving hashtag campaigns and viral news – but it is also more often a venue for public disgrace and scandal (here’s looking at you, Kanye…)
The content you place on Twitter can and will be held against you. This is troublesome for high school athletes who reveal too much during football season, or seniors who tweet about how lame their college tour guide is during application season – but also for teachers who vent about students and professionals who make off-color remarks. In the world of Twitter, what goes around literally comes around (it’s just called a RT.)
So how can you use Twitter effectively, still be true to your personality, and still enjoy using it with friends? This involves a little give and take. Since it’s possible that college recruiters or future employers may choose to Google your name (and yes, your Twitter handle will be among the first things to pop up, since it belongs to a site with extraordinary search engine hits) it’s best to be both retroactive and proactive in crafting an identity safe for public scrutiny.
1.Read through your tweets and RT’s. Yes, all 3k of them. Delete or un-RT controversial or sensitive materials that might hurt your chances of admission or employment. You might think no one will look past your recent Twitter history, but people can be trolls and love nothing if not a long, lazy scroll through another person’s social media history while eating a tuna sandwich during lunch break.
2.Google your name. Frequently. Do a deep search to find out where you might pop up, particularly on Twitter. If you see that someone else has incriminated you or made you look “unprofessional” (to say the least,) ask them privately to remove the tweet. Remember: Removing something from the internet doesn’t make it disappear for good, but it can help to bury it a little better.
3.Reconsider using your real name. If you don’t always walk a professional line when using Twitter, it’s probably best to just avoid owning up to who you really are all together. If you have engaged in a lot of un-professional banter, it might make sense to even close your account and start afresh- though you probably don’t want to lose your followers. In that case, while it won’t make your identity totally untraceable, changing your name to something creative can perhaps help to obscure your personal life from public searches. In the very least, you can simply alter the spelling of your name (For example, turn ‘Caitlin’ into “Kaytlyn”).
1.Consider making your account private. If you only use it to follow friends and celebs, there is no real reason to have a public account. It’s probably smart to just put a lock on it and keep your Twitterverse in relative isolation. Yes, you can still troll The Bieb.
2.Think hard about how you would want to be seen if your dream college or job was googling you- or even just your mother. Twitter can be light and fun, but as is the case with all social media networks, it can often cause more harm than good. If you see an amusing but controversial tweet you want to share with a friend, use your DM to send the link, and periodically remove any sensitive tweets or RT’s that don’t need really need to be hanging around a day later. Definitely do not say negative things about other people on Twitter, ever. Really bad move.
3.Open a (second) Twitter account with your real name, and use it strictly for wholesome and professional networking. If you are going to be searched anyway, why not put out content that you would actually be proud to have associated with your name? Keep a public account that demonstrates your intellect, personality, career goals and accomplishments. Don’t keep this account stiff and robotic with simple RT’s, but instead try to provide thoughtful commentary and insight into who you are- and who you aspire to be.
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