So Twitter released this statement on August 29:
If you’re someone who shrieks at the sheer sight of a sentence containing unfamiliar terminology, then you’ll rely on someone else to lay down the idea of protected tweets in simple terms:
1) When you are signed into Twitter, your tweets are public domain; anyone and their mama can see and read your updates, even the NSA.
2) You have the option to protect your tweets. Want to write about that embarrassing time you spilled ice cream on yourself and don’t want your boss to find out? Just complicatedly navigate yourself to your Twitter settings (click the gear icon), go under Tweet privacy and check the box.
Voila, now your protected tweets are only visible by your approved Twitter followers. They cannot be re-tweeted or shared either; they’re for you and your follower’s eyes only.
“Approved” Twitter followers, you say? Yes. Normally, anyone can just go and follow you like an angry motherless Batman, but the thing is – when you enable protected Tweets, you also enable an approval system in which anyone who wants to follow you has to get your permission first. Think of it like a Facebook friend request.
It looks like this:
So now, the door you left open in which you let anyone come in and watch everything you do is now closed. People have to knock first, and you choose whether to let them in or not. On top of that, they cannot tell anyone else what’s happening. What happens in your house (Twitter) stays in your house. Even you can’t tell others what’s going on unless you let them in; replies you send to other people that aren't following you don’t get to see them (because they’re still your protected tweets.)
However, if you have a change of heart and want to expose yourself to the world again, you always have that option to keep your door open.
So what’s all the fuss about Twitter releasing that statement? Nothing really, it just got some people flabbergasted on what it meant. The fact that Twitter's support had to tweet that your approved followers are able to search through the Twitter database to see your tweets is so simple it’s almost cryptic, because you’d think it’s self-evident and didn't need to be announced. All it means is that your tweets are searchable by your approved followers, it’s not in the public’s eye or Google’s search engine, so don’t worry. All is well with the world.