John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, and now at

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A technical question, and an appeal for help

Perhaps some of you who are knowledgeable can help me with an irritating problem.

I work on an iMac at home, and nearly every day I get shut out of Facebook or Twitter on Firefox or Safari. Firefox delivers a "This Connection is Untrusted" warning that says that Twitter has an untrusted security certificate, and Safari renders a similar security certificate error.

This happens when I leave either Facebook or Twitter logged on for an extended time, and the only remedy that I have figured out is to clear the history and restart the computer.

I never have this problem with the Dell on my desk at work, so I assume that the problem has something to do with the iMac rather than with Facebook or Twitter.

Is there something about the iMac's security settings that needs adjustment? I welcome suggestions from Apple fanciers.


  1. Have you updated to OS X 10.7.4? If so, try the following, from an Apple support forum. Exact same issue as yours. It's a bit laborious, and make sure to follow the instructions closely. Bet it works.

    Here we go:

    Close all windows.

    Keychain Access -> click on System Roots on the left, and then click on Certifcates on the bottom left.

    Check to see if any of the certificates on the right have the blue "+" symbol - this means they have custom trust settings.

    There is a bug in changing the policies, so you'll have to change them via the method below. Changing them just by changing the access to "system defaults" doesn't seem to save. The method below worked for me.

    Double-click on each certificate with the custom setting (blue "+"), expand the section labled "trust". Change the "Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)" setting to "no value specified". Close window - you should be prompted for the password. Double-click on the certificate again, expand trust, change the "When using this certificate" setting to "Use System Defaults". Close window, and re-enter password.

    If you didn't re-enter your password upon closing the window, the setting didn't take. The blue "+" should disappear after a few seconds when it's set back to default. Once all of the certificates are changed back to default, restart Safari.

    Good luck!

  2. John, try looking on this site for details of how to correct the security certificate problem:

  3. Hmm ... I have used only Macs and have never had this problem. Maybe try Chrome?

  4. I get the same thing occasionally on my Kindle Fire, but it gives me the option to ignore the message, which I do.

  5. Before you try anything else, make sure that your time and date are set correctly. These security certificates have expiration dates and if your computer's clock is out of whack, it will read them as expired.

    Might not be the problem, but it's such a temptingly easy fix that it's worth checking first.

  6. This is something that is being fairly widely reported in the latest update of Mountain Lion, and it happens with any browser.