Thursday, October 14, 2010

Twitter DMs: Not as off-the-record as you may have thought

I love a backchannel conversation as much as the next person, and the options for holding private conversations on social media--like "secret" groups on Facebook or Twitter direct messages (known as DMs for short)--have an appeal for professional communicators and reporters who want the ease of social networks and the privacy of off-the-record conversations.

Turns out, though, that when it comes to Twitter DMs, you and your correspondent may not be the only people who can see them.  PC World and GigaOm note that third-party apps with access to your Twitter account also may be able to see--and publish--your direct messages.  From PC World:

While the DMs are ostensibly private, the reality is that any apps that have been approved to access your Twitter account can also see those “private” messages. There are only two types of account access authorizations: read-only, or read-and-write. In either case, the fact that the app has been granted permission to access the account at all means that all Twitter messages, including DMs are accessible to the app. In the event of read-and-write approval, the app could also delete your messages, or send messages out on your behalf.
PC World includes the steps to take to check which programs have access to your account--which it's easy to revoke. Go to "settings," then "connections" to see your list.  If you're like me, over the years you've signed up for a variety of mobile apps, joint sign-ins with sites like Facebook and fun apps that show your follower stats or who's been favoriting your tweets.  Let me suggest that communicators (and the reporters to whom they're leaking stuff) schedule a monthly cleanup chore with this task in mind...and think before you tweet, even in a DM. 

I hope no one out there is still wondering why my company's called don't get caught. Let's be careful out there.  (A hat tip to Steve Rubel for sharing this link on Twitter.)

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1 comment:

TJ Walker said...

If you are touching a keyboard, it's best to assume that you aren't off the record.