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This Twitter mistake could put you in danger

Elon Musk has taken over Twitter, and people are fleeing the social network in droves. Advertisers and public figures are also flying the coop. Over 877,000 accounts were deactivated between Oct. 27 and Nov. 1.

With all the hubbub surrounding Twitter, other apps are trying to capitalize. A German app called Mastodon is emerging as one of the most popular Twitter replacements. Tap or click here for more on Mastodon and why you may consider making the switch.

If you’re ready to leave Twitter, you’re probably thinking of just deleting it and moving on. That would be the obvious choice. But it turns out that this might not be the best move. Read on to learn why.

Don’t be so quick to delete

Elon Musk is on a mission to bring in new revenue. His plan to charge $8 for a blue verification mark is backfiring in a big way. Verified accounts were designed to stop users from impersonating public figures and companies. That doesn’t work well when anyone can buy a verification mark for a few bucks.

People are impersonating well-known people and brands and tweeting in their names. A prime example is a fake Eli Lily account that announced it was making insulin for free. The stock price tumbled, and the company landed in even more hot water when it explained that the post was not legitimate.

We understand that you want to leave Twitter. But don’t do anything before you read this:

  • You can’t just delete Twitter. You must deactivate it. You’ll then have 30 days to change your mind before it’s deleted.
  • After deletion, your username (or handle) becomes available to the public, whether it is your real name or not.
  • Anyone else can use your handle after you’re gone and tweet as if they were you.
  • Even worse, they can buy a blue verification mark, making it seem more legitimate.

You may think this is no big deal if you’re not a public figure, but let’s say you’re applying for a job. A recruiter googles your name and your Twitter account comes up. They’ll see posts done in your name that you have nothing to do with.

RELATED: Amid Twitter changes, the scams have begun – Don’t fall for this one

Do this instead

You can safely put Twitter behind you by following a different route: Delete all your tweets and make your account private. This may seem daunting if you’ve tweeted hundreds or thousands of times, but we’ve got a shortcut.

First, you’ll want to download an archive of your tweets if you don’t want to lose them:

  • Sign into your Twitter account from a computer and click the more icon in the navigation bar.
  • Go to Settings and Support > Settings and privacy.
  • Select Your account > Download an archive of your data.
  • You’ll be asked to enter your password. Or, verify your identity by sending a code to your email address and/or phone number on file.
  • After verifying your identity, click the Request data button.
  • When your download is ready, Twitter will send an email to your connected email account or a push notification. From your settings, you can click the Download data button under the Download data section.
  • Once you receive the email, click the Download button while logged in to your Twitter account and download a ZIP file of your Twitter archive.

Now that you have your data, you can proceed to the next steps:

  • Delete all your tweets. If there are too many to do manually, use a service like Tweet Deleter. It can delete all your tweets and likes (for a price). You can also archive your tweets through Tweet Deleter.
  • Now it’s time to lock your account. Go to the Twitter app and tap your profile picture and select Settings and privacy.
  • Go to Privacy and safety > Audience and tagging.
  • Toggle on the switch next to Protect your Tweets.
  • Now go to your profile and tap Edit profile.
  • Delete all your personal information and get rid of your profile picture.

Now, your handle cannot be used by anyone else, and a search of your name will come up with a blank, private profile.

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