Perhaps more than any other social network, Twitter goes beyond family and friends to connect you to a global audience—it’s not unlike a town square for the whole world to gather in. You might find yourself retweeted in countries you’ve never heard of or getting direct messages from people on the other side of the planet.
This is how Twitter is set up to work by default, and there are a lot of advantages to this openness. However, if you’d rather have a more limited, private Twitter experience, the platform provides plenty of tools for restricting who can find you, who can see your tweets, and who can get in touch with you.
We’ll show you how to find these options through the Twitter interface on the web, although you can also find the same settings through Twitter’s mobile apps.
Public or Protected
Your Twitter account as a whole can be either public or protected (private). If it’s public, anyone can see your profile and your tweets, even if they don’t have a Twitter account. Other Twitter users can freely follow you, reply to your tweets, and retweet them.
Choose a protected Twitter experience and only your followers can see your tweets—and those followers must be specifically approved by you. You can read more about public and protected tweets here.
To change the setting for your account, open Twitter on the web and click the three dots on the left-hand navigation pane, then Settings and privacy, Your account, Account information, and Protected Tweets.
Open or Close Your DMs
Direct messages (DMs) are how people get in touch with you directly on Twitter. These operate independently of whether your account is protected, and by default anyone who follows you can DM you.
That also means that anyone you’re following can message you. To let any Twitter user message you, go to the settings page on the web, then click Privacy and safety and Direct Messages and check the Allow message requests from everyone box. You can read more about this setting here.
Even with this option enabled, you must still accept the message request from anyone you’re not following in order to reply to it. You can see your messages and your message requests here on the web.
Be Harder to Find
There are lots of ways to find people on Twitter. By default, anyone who has your email address or your cell number in their phone might see you as a contact suggestion when they load up the Twitter application.
To stop this from happening and make yourself harder to find, head to the settings page for Twitter on the web, then select Privacy and safety and Discoverability and contacts. Uncheck the boxes labeled Let people who have your email address find you on Twitter and Let people who have your phone number find you on Twitter.