Auto-deleting on Twitter as an option? Here's how some are using it already

What happens if you want to delete something you wrote a year back on Twitter?Auto-delet to the rescue it is.


The 'right-to-be-forgotten' on the Internet is something that European regulators have taken quite seriously. Last year, invoking the 'right', technology-search giant Google was directed to remove search results from European websites when individuals invoke this right.

However in the realm of social media, like say Twitter or Facebook where the content is put up by users, it's an entirely different ball-game.  In Facebook, you can of course edit out your stuff, a feature some of us might find remarkably useful, but in case of Twitter, where you can't really edit a tweet once you've sent it out, delete is perhaps the only option for many users who have second thoughts about a tweet.

But what happens if you want to delete something you wrote a year back? Crawling all the way down your timeline sounds like a tedious option, but thankfully there are unofficial solutions.  The one that appears to be popular: Auto-deletion when it comes to tweets.

According to this post on Fusion.net, some users have chosen to put their tweet histories on an auto-destruct mode. The article also points out how Robin Sloan, a former Twitter employee even wrote a script that automatically deletes his tweets after a given period of time. The script is available on Github for others to use as well and users can set their own time-span after which a tweet should be deleted, notes the article.

Another serial-deleter that the Fusion article mentions is Lazin-Ryder, who points out in a matter-of-fact manner, "Tweets are passing things. I don’t laminate and frame my note-pad doodles, why would I preserve my tweets for all time?"

To some extent there is a merit to auto-deleting tweets, especially if you're the angry ranter type on social media and one of your tweets could get you into trouble much later. One such example of old tweets getting someone into trouble is ex-Business Insider CTO Pax Dickinson. "Dickinson was ousted from his position after unsavory tweets he’d posted years before made it into the social web’s spotlight," says the report.

Of course in Dickinson's case no amount of auto-deleting would have helped since it was unlikely that no one would have taken screenshots of his terribly misogynist tweets. As the report, points there are services like TweetDelete, Tweet Deleter, and TwitWipe which also aid users in setting up auto-delete options.

Where auto-delete as an option is concerned, it's unlikely that Twitter will include it ever in the service given that it would also mean losing out on vast-troves of data, something that no social media company can afford to do.

But the question really when it comes to auto-delete on Twitter is what it says about the medium. As Ryder rightly points out 'tweets are passing things.' It's great for real-time updates but 140 characters means that most people on Twitter end up venting, often giving only a fleeting sense of whatever they could be feeling.

In India's case, Twitter often ends up reading like the world is divided between Internet-sanghis and the 'sickular' folks. Nuance is often lost on Twitter no matter where you look, and even Twitter CEO Dick Costolo admits they have a troll problem.

The question that auto-delete poses is whether you want to keep all of these tweets, some of which may be horrible, some that make no sense, some that are just rants, for eternity. It's really not about whether someone can take a screenshot and then use that tweet against you. The auto-deletion of a tweet also means that in some senses you're moving, from that past thought into another one. Frankly it's a question that not many will find easy to answer.


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