Sunday, 18 January 2009

Why protect your Twitter updates?

I've found my Twitter followers are growing quite rapidly recently, probably as connectors such as Mr Tweet and Twellow become more widely used.
I follow quite of lot of them back (unless they only update via an automatic feed telling Twitter they've blogged) as I like having a widening conversation circle - but there are a couple of things in the way of 'Twetiquette' that I find irritating:

1. Auto DMs that say something along the lines of: "thanks for the follow. Find out more about (insert pointless marketing opportunity here) by visiting my website"... I love the excellent "Click on My Junk" post by Amber Naslund, which sums this up perfectly

2. The other irritation is this:

So this person is already following me - but how do I find out about my new follower if I can't see their Twitter stream? Yes, I can click on their profile's website link but often that won't tell me if we share friends, if they converse or simply broadcast, or whether they are following me because we live in the same area or work in the same field.

In fact, it irritates me so much that I ended up (once more) turning to Twitter for the answer.

I got some interesting responses.

In the "I don't do it but understand why some might" camp:
@Torgwen Yes to have small group of friends/for work etc. whereas now any unknown nosey b***r like me can read what you write!
@davidbartlett1 maybe if you say "I'm going to America for three weeks" you fear someone might break into your house?

In the "They're missing the point" camp:
@editorialgirl I don't get it either. Some of my followers have protected updates - so I have no idea if they're worth following back or not
@foodiesarah & what exactly are they hiding? even more ironic when bio says "social networker". umm, that'll b on a one-way social network ?

And there's the "life is too short to bother with lurkers" camp:
@louisebolotin I block unknown followers who have protected their updates!

Confession: When I joined Twitter I protected my updates for about 2 weeks; I stopped because it felt wrong and ... precious. Nothing I tweeted was so interesting that it merited forcing someone to ask permission to follow me. Why did I protect them in the first place? Just to see if it worked. Well, it did. I got no new followers for that fortnight, and I switched it off pretty smartly.

Personally, if you protect your updates, I feel as though you've already placed limits on our potential conversations and future networks.
It would be interesting to know if many of those who padlock their updates are newsbies to social networks. Do you protect yours? If so, why? Is it because you are fed up with spammers? Block them if it bothers you that much.
Social media is about opening conversations, sharing, linking, building networks; if you put up barriers and police who can follow you too rigidly, you are going to miss out on a lot.
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