Changing a Twitter account’s privacy setting between public and protected changes the visibility of past tweets. By inspecting the privacy setting of more than 100K Twitter users over 3 months, we noticed that over 40% of those users changed their privacy setting at least once with around 16% changing it over 5 times. This observation motivated us to explore the reasons why people switch their privacy settings. We studied these switching phenomena quantitatively by comparing the tweeting behaviour of users when public vs protected, and qualitatively using two follow-up surveys (n=100, n=324) to understand potential reasoning behind the observed behaviours. Our quantitative analysis shows that users who switch privacy settings mention others and share hashtags more when their setting is public. Our surveys highlighted that users turn protected to share personal content and regulate boundaries while they turn public to interact with others in ways the protected setting prevents.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Place of PublicationNew York, NY, USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781450391573
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2022
EventThe ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2022 - New Orleans, United States
Duration: 30 Apr 20226 May 2022

Publication series

NameCHI '22
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery


ConferenceThe ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2022
Abbreviated titleCHI 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans
Internet address


  • Privacy
  • Twitter
  • Security
  • Online Social Networks
  • Privacy Settings


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding Privacy Switching Behaviour on Twitter'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this