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The implications of un-deleted Twitter posts & our internet privacy

This latest bug with Twitter un-deletes posts – and if you’ve been on the internet a long time, that’s a lot you might want to stay deleted.

A man looking at his phone with a sad thoughtful expression looking at Twitter.

By now, you may find yourself asking, “What hasn’t gone wrong since Elon Musk took over Twitter?” The answer would be a simple one: not much.

Twitter has dealt with numerous bugs in the past year, from limiting traffic and engagement to issues surrounding it’s recent rebranding to just “X.” The newest headache comes in the form of deleted tweets resurfacing. James Vincent, senior reporter for The Verge, recently recounted his experience with this bug. 

On May 8th, Mr. Vincent wiped his entire Twitter account, eager for a fresh start on the micro-blogging app. Unfortunately, some of his tweets resurfaced. Dozens of James Vincent’s previously deleted retweets were visible on his profile, with even more surfacing if you select “tweets with replies.” Mr. Vincent was not alone in experiencing this glitch, as one Mastodon user stated that over 34,000 of his deleted tweets had also been restored.

Since his takeover, Elon Musk disbanded the press team, so we’ve yet to learn what may have caused this issue or how we can be sure it won’t happen again. While Mr. Vincent’s resurfaced Tweets were fairly unremarkable, it’s important for users to have confidence that the actions they perform on the platform will stick.

For instance, let’s consider someone a new college graduate, hunting for their first corporate job. It’s no secret that some companies dive into their applicants’ social media accounts, especially ones that are usually public, like Twitter. The applicant may want to keep their account for networking purposes, but get rid of photos from college parties and tweets about wicked hangovers in order to appear more professional if their profile is discovered. Deleting tweets, although not perfect, would be the first logical step one would take, though now we know it shouldn’t be done with much confidence on Twitter’s end.

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When considering the implications for my fellow millennials, I can’t help but think of how we’ve quite literally grown up with the internet. Twitter launched when many of us were still teenagers or young adults. We likely shared links to our Xanga accounts or even MySpace. We shared jokes that we may not find funny or even appropriate today. We went from “know-it-all” young people to working professionals. There’s a high chance that our older Tweets hold heartwarming nostalgia along with a lot of cringy content we’d like to bury forever. 

Consider someone running for political office as well. We’ve seen how quickly old photos can be found and shared so quickly. Shouldn’t a user have the right to delete content they created? 

People grow and change in real life, so shouldn’t their social media presence have that same opportunity? We delete ideals, vocabulary, and bad habits from our real lives, it’s only logical to do the same for our digital lives.

The old saying goes “if you post it on the internet, it lives forever” and this massive bug in Twitter’s (X) servers is only proving that case. Have you experienced this issue on Twitter?

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Jennifer is a native Houstonian (go Astros!) with a knack for creating digital works of art. She has expansive experience creating content and branded collateral for Fortune 500 companies, as well as small local businesses. When she’s not buried in her laptop, Jennifer is the marketing director for a world championship circuit barbecue cook off team and pet mom to dog (Milo) and Guinea pig (Piggy Smalls).


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