I’m often asked about the privacy of using social media. The question usually goes something like this:
“If I have a friend or acquaintance who I’d prefer didn’t see my posts, should I just block them?”
I always respond with the statement, “Most social media is public.” I say most, because Facebook is definitely more of a private network, and it’s very easy to even be friends with someone without showing them all of your information and posts.
But on Pinterest and Twitter? These networks are completely public. Anyone can peruse your boards, whether they’re following you or not; Anyone can browse your tweets.
So, why block someone on Pinterest or Twitter? And, more importantly, what happens when you do?
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What Happens if I Block Someone on Pinterest?
It’s important to know exactly what happens before you decide to block. If you block someone on Pinterest, they won’t be notified – until they try to interact with you. Because Pinterest is so inherently public, so are your boards, unless you create a secret board. If you decide to block someone, here is the message they get:
There’s no hiding from that. You’ve effectively let that person know, in no uncertain terms, that you have no interest in interacting with them. If they click to learn more about why you’ve blocked them, they are directed to a page on Pinterest that says “If you’re getting a message that you’ve been blocked when you try to follow a specific person or interact with his/her pins, it is most likely that your interaction with them was outside their comfort-zone.”
Think about that. According to Pinterest, you’ve just implied that this person is some kind of a stalker, or worse…
Knowing this, if you get to the point of wanting to block someone, they probably should have done something bad enough for you to actually report them to the network.
Blocking someone on Pinterest means that
- The person you block will not be able to follow you or interact with your pins.
- You will not be able to follow this person or interact with their pins.
- Neither you nor the other person will be able to like, repin, or comment on each other’s pins.
- Any previous follows that existed between you and the other person are automatically removed.
- Any previous comments between you and the other person are automatically removed.
- Any previous likes and/or repins between you and the other person are NOT automatically removed. You may, however, unlike pins to remove them individually. All other interactions are blocked.
Is There Any Privacy on Pinterest?
Secret boards were recently announced. This is a great way to organize your pins before you’re ready to show them to the world or to maintain a board that is for your eyes only.
What About Twitter?
Twitter was built as a public network. This means that you don’t even have to follow someone to go to their page and see what they’re up to.
So if you are going to tweet, treat the message as something you would be happy to share with your mother.
What Happens if I Block Someone on Twitter?
Very little, except that when the person goes to your page and clicks “Follow,” they will be greeted with this message:
You will not see any @mentions coming through from this person either.
While this works well as a means of avoiding a true spammer, if you’re trying to block that annoying high school friend from interacting with you, be aware that they won’t be your friend online, or offline, for much longer…
Can I Have Any Privacy On Twitter?
Sure you can. To unclutter your Home Timeline, simply unfollow those whose tweets you don’t want to see. If you don’t want the general public to see your Tweets, there is something you can do on Twitter without going down the “Block” route. You can choose to have a protected account.
When you protect your Tweets, the following restrictions are put in place:
- People will have to request to follow you; each follow request will need approval.
- Your Tweets will only be visible to users you’ve approved.
- Other users will not be able to retweet your Tweets.
- Protected Tweets will not appear in Twitter search or Google search.
- @replies you send to people who aren’t following you will not be seen by those users (because you have not given them permission to see your Tweets).
- You cannot share permanent links to your Tweets with anyone other than your approved followers.
It’s Really a Question of Etiquette…
The way I look at it, blocking someone with whom you would ordinarily interact in the real world, is tantamount to walking past them and blanking them on the street. They can see you — you’re right there in public, but you refuse to interact. It’s a bridge burner. Creating a secret board or unfollowing is a less aggressive approach that accomplishes the same goal without unintentionally (or intentionally) offending someone. Social media ettiquette is evolving, so it’s best to be informed and err on the conservative side.
Guest Author: Tammy Fennell is the CEO and co-founder of MarketMeSuite, the “Inbox For Social” for Small Businesses. She co-founded MarketMeSuite and has grown it to over 30,000 small business users. Tammy is also the editor of WeAreSocialPeople.com. Connect with Tammy @Tammykfennell.
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