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Twitter: Why you need Twitter for study and research

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K802 Module Team
10 November 2011

If you are not using Twitter for study, here are five reasons why you should give it some serious thought:

1   You get access to different points of view First, the value of your Twitter experience will depend largely on the people you follow. Search Twitter for people in your field, authors, experts, practitioners. You will often see links to the author's Twitter feed on blogs, news stories and elsewhere. If they interest you, follow them. Once you have started following, say, 20 people, try searching all of the people they follow and connect with even more contacts in your field or area of interest.

The people you follow will point you to great resources you might not find otherwise Blogs are only one source of information. For emerging developments, trends, news and information about day-to-day events and practice, Twitter is an invaluable source. White and Green Papers, changes to legislation, book launches, new articles, upcoming conferences and events: these are all things you might expect to come across (via the people you follow) in an average day.

You can consult your followers (and others in the Twitter community) Your peers are a rich resource for study and research, for testing opinions and your own hypotheses. You can also ask straight questions and seek advice from people with experience and knowledge.

4 Twitter is a constantly updating search engine To find Tweets on subjects that interest you and to connect with the people who are talking about things you are interested in, try searching Twitter for key terms, as you would any other search engine.

5 Twitter helps you build study and professional networks You will see some words have the # symbol in front of them, e.g. #highered (or higher education). These are hashtags. You can search Twitter for hashtags to find people who are tweeting on subjects you are interested in. Use them yourself (e.g. #K802) and it helps others to find and connect with you.

(Matthew Moran 10 November 2011)

Extra content

Will Twitter protect my personal details?

Yes and no.

When you sign up for a Twitter account, you agree to allow Twitter to pass your Twitter registration details (i.e. your username) to third-party companies and other organisations. In effect, what this means is that you will see 'promoted tweets' in the right column (under 'Who to follow'). These are selected for you based on your Twitter activity: if you Tweet often on a certain subject, e.g. shoes, you are likely to see promoted users specialising in that area. However, you will not receive spam (unsolicited email or messages) from these sources - you must choose to follow promoted users in order to see their advertisements. If you prefer not to see adverts, don't follow promoted users.

Unlike other instant-messaging systems, email, Facebook or Google, the personal information you send through Twitter is public by default. In theory, anyone with a free account can find you just as you can find others.

How to deal with abusive spammers

Sometimes you may be tweeted by rogue users who are abusing the system to promote often illicit products and services. You should block these users and report them for spam: click on the user's name, select the profile icon (the head and shoulders in silhouette), and choose 'Report [username] for spam' from the drop-down menu. In this way, Twitter encourages users to police the system themselves.

How to spot abusive users

You can usually spot spammers from their profiles. If they do not have a profile photo, that's a good sign that they are suspect. They may have no or few followers - another good sign that the account has been created merely to send spam. Often they send you only a link, nothing else - do not open any links you receive in this way. Report spam immediately using the method described above - it's quick and easy, the rogue spam will disappear from your profile, and the offenders will be removed from the system by Twitter administrators.

K802 Module Team
10:24 on 14 November 2011 (Edited 12:38 on 14 November 2011)

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K802 Module Team
1:09pm 10 November 2011 (Edited 10:40am 14 November 2011)


Mobile Twitter

As with any third-party service, there are some risks involved in using Twitter on the move.

It pays to be aware of these risks.

Here is a useful guide to using Twitter safely on your smartphone or other mobile device:

MobileActive.org's guide to safer Twitter

Best wishes,

Matthew Moran

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