Twitter has a Binary Privacy Setting, are Users Aware of How It Works?


Twitter accounts are public by default, but Twitter gives the option to create protected accounts, where only approved followers can see their tweets. The publicly visible information changes based on the account type and the visibility of tweets also depends solely on the poster’s account type which can cause unintended disclosures especially when users interact. We surveyed 336 Twitter users to understand users’ awareness of account information visibility, as well as the tweet visibility when users interact. We find that our participants are aware of the visibility of their profile information and individual tweets. However, the visibility of followed topics, lists, and interactions with protected accounts is confusing. Only 31% of the participants were aware that a reply by a public account to a protected account’s tweet would be publicly visible. Surprisingly, having a protected account does not result in a better understanding of the account information or tweet visibility.

In Proceedings of the 2023 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW23)