The padlock on a user’s Twitter account means that the user’s tweets are protected. Protecting your tweets on Twitter essentially makes your account private. Your tweets cannot be retweeted, and your posts are not visible to public users. When you protect your tweets, the padlock icon appears next to your avatar in your profile page and in your tweets.

Protected vs. Public Tweets

On Twitter, your profile and tweets can be publicly viewed by default. This means that users do not need to have a Twitter account, nor do they need to follow your account to view your tweets and profile. Your tweets may show up in Google and Twitter searches. When you configure your tweets as protected, your tweets are visible only by you and your followers. Your tweets do not appear in Google or Twitter public searches, and approved users who can access your tweets cannot retweet them. Your protected tweets will still appear in searches executed by you and your followers.

Following a Protected Account

When you protect your tweets, other users can still follow your account. However, they must request approval from you in order to do so. When your account is protected and you receive a follow request, a new Follower Request notification tab appears on your Twitter profile page. Click the tab to see a list of those requesting to follow your account. Click “Approve” to accept the follower, or click “Deny” to reject and ignore the request. If you follow other protected accounts, you will find that you cannot retweet the private accounts’ posts, and those accounts cannot retweet your posts.

How to Protect My Tweets

To protect your tweets, log in to Twitter, then click the down arrow next to the gear icon. Click “Settings,” then click the “Security and Privacy” tab. Scroll to the Tweet Privacy section, then click the “Protect My Tweets” check box. Save the settings. Your tweets are immediately set to private.

Caveats

When you configure the Protect My Tweets setting, all of your tweets, even those already published on the platform, immediately become private. The reverse is also true. If your account was previously protected, and then you disable the Protect My Tweets setting, private tweets immediately become public. Even though your tweets are protected, your posts may still be listed in Google search results. This is because the data is cached on Google servers. You can submit a request to Google to remove the information from its search engine. Locate the URL for the listing, then submit the URL to Google using the Removal Request form (see Resources).