Online sleuths have spent the past several years uncovering some of our deepest and darkest secrets. Secrets that, for whatever reason, we decided to make public.
It’s fair game. Once you tweet something publicly, it’s available to anyone who feels like doing a little digging. Often, these tweets are in the public interest, especially as it relates to politicians, celebrities, or even your favorite brands.
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For most, there’s little to fear. There’s the odd drunken rant or image, maybe. Embarrassing, but not all that damaging.
Others, though, have something far darker to hide. Whether it’s racist tirades, homophobic language, or jokes made in poor taste, however, we’re not here to judge. We’re imperfect beings who (hopefully) spend our entire lives growing and maturing, often becoming vastly different versions of our previous selves.
Regardless of why you might be interested in deleting old tweets, one thing is becoming quite clear: They can be, and often are, a liability. Here’s how to delete them, automatically.
Download an archive
Users have the option to download their entire tweet archive. Whether you need this security blanket before letting go is up to you. But to do it, just go to Twitter > Account Settings> Your Twitter data > Request data. A short time later, Twitter will email you a giant zip file containing the entire archive of your tweets.
Just make sure the email address tied to your Twitter account is the one you want it sent to.
Delete your tweets
Manually deleting tweets is the cleanest approach, but it’s not at all optimal.
Instead, it’s probably worth using a service like TweetDelete. It’s free, and allows you to erase as many as 3,200 tweets at a time. For many users, this is nowhere near enough, so they’ll need to run the program multiple times.
To use the service, you’ll need to connect it to your Twitter account and tell it what you want to delete. You can delete all your past tweets, or choose a lighter option, like only deleting those that are more than three months (or a year) old. Once you’ve selected the option you’re comfortable with, just click Activate TweetDelete and wait.
The Verge also has an excellent guide to free and premium (paid) services you can use if you’re not a fan of TweetDelete.
Deleting old tweets doesn’t erase any evidence of their existence. Reporters, for example, often rely on archival tools like Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. From there, we can get a snapshot of individual Twitter users’ accounts so long as it was crawled after the post was published. It’s an incomplete record, and often completely random, but it does display tweets that you later deleted. There’s nothing you can do about it, really.
You’ll also have to consider screenshots and where they may have been published. Deleting a tweet obviously doesn’t delete evidence someone managed to grab with a screenshot.
And if it ever gets too bad, you can always delete your account.