Whether because you hope to become famous one day, or maybe you just don’t want that old tweet coming back to haunt you in your job search, deleting tweets is vital to a positive social media experience.
During the 2016 election, people have gone out of their way to use Twitter’s relatively new search tool to scour Donald Trump’s nearly decade-old timeline. Despite the tweets too old to display in his feed, the tweets can still be found through this search tool. So what did people do? They’d RT an embarrassing remark. They’d use a tweet card against a current tweet to show hypocrisy on an issue. They’d revisit past controversies. The search function has been used to discredit Donald Trump in a number of ways not possible had he simply decided to delete his tweets.
He also tweets plenty of current things which discredit him as well, so maybe deletion wouldn’t save him. But it might save you…
Simply put, do you really want an easily accessible record of everything you said at a (likely) immature age? Do you really want a public timeline available to any potential employer or significant other to dig up seemingly non threatening but controversial opinions said years ago? Do you want to be taken out of context for something you said in a Twitter rant four years ago?
Of course not.
More than that, going through the process of deleting my tweets has also better informed my social media strategy.
As I went through tweets not deleted after my auto delete service maxed out at 3200 per day, I noticed a theme: I repeated a lot of the same rants and themes.
Among those themes were my subtweets aimed at a former mentor. While drafted purely with the goal of hoping he’d speak to me again, I never considered the cumulative effect. When reviewing these tweets in a custom filter (available on tweet eraser) I realized I sounded like a broken record. At the time all I could focus on was the very real hurt feelings, that I just wanted to make an impression and hope he’d speak to me again. The collective impression isn’t just that I sounded like a broken record, out of context it also looks unhinged.
Now I’m obviously not insane. Never once have I crossed a line, stalked this person or anything like that. That doesn’t matter because the collective impression over a period of time is seemingly crazy. It is behavior that as I analyze it out of context can be described in no other way, no matter how innocent its intention. If it looks crazy, that’s all it will take to earn that label whether fair, true or not.
While he’s still looked and occasionally engaged with my writing, I cannot fault him for maybe having a questionable opinion of me. I’ve spoken a lot about being on the spectrum, and even wrote about “social amnesia.” That’s what I call the foggy memory on the part of many on the spectrum which leads us to repeating ourselves. We revisit the same topic or conundrum over and over again, because we want to address or solve it — even if we can’t. We often lack a real time filter which helps us to assess how we may come across. Since we don’t readily recall our last “rant” on the topic, we certainly don’t take into consideration the collective impression.
The danger of Twitter is that similar to conversation, everything is happening in real time. The ability to just tweet your thoughts on the spot means sometimes we don’t employ the filter necessary for something which will go on the record. That’s the danger, it’s real time *on the record.*
So when my former mentor or someone else decides to search my timeline and sees my tweets about him over a period of time, some including him might say “why is she so obsessed with this person?!”
There is no asterisk implicating Aspergers. Even if there was, it doesn’t really invalidate their perspective. I’d argue I don’t think about him nearly as much as Twitter might suggest –nowhere near that. Of course I’m more likely to talk about him online, he’s my first mentor, the person who encouraged me to write and is someone who I got a lot from both advice-wise and experience-wise. Naturally since my account is largely about the industry and my experiences in it, many of my stories and words of advice are going to reflect back to him. The problem is when those tweets are added to periodic subtweets which have no reason to exist, it creates the aforementioned impression: unhinged person; crazy; obsessed.
Fair? Of course not. True? Not in the least. But perspective is reality for the person holding that POV and you do yourself no favors by reinforcing it with dumb tweets.
Nobody wants to be taken out of context. It sort of hurts writing this because I know I’m not an unhinged person and my hope is that by continuing to occasionally check in on me, my former mentor understands that too. I don’t know. All I know is that as someone on the spectrum, I have matured a lot. It takes us longer to learn socially acceptable interaction, so now at 28 I employ better filters. Even as recently as a year ago I didn’t. When all that goes on the record, it can make me look pretty bad.
Your experiences may not be as extreme as mine, but I guarantee there is something you said years ago that can be used against you. There is always someone willing to do the digging. It may be something really innocuous, but you don’t know because you can’t possibly predict someone’s motivations. Employers especially have grown increasingly savvy in navigating social media. They’ll find all those tweets about IP reform made in your early 20s and chalk it up to a pro piracy stance so you loose that development job. Sure you don’t support piracy, but again that tweet taken out of context from its original rant paints a different picture.
So delete your old tweets and then make sure you activate an app that will automatically delete tweets older than 90 days (tweetdelete.net). If you’re like me and have tens of thousands, remember that all tweet delete services, including those which cost money, can only make 3200 delete requests per day. So don’t get suckered into paying for a free service, there is no advantage. So you will have to frequently repeat the process. Also, many older tweets will be harder to access because they are archived. Similar to an onion, they will only reappear after you’ve peeled back the layer of tweets above them. So just because your timeline shows zero tweets, it doesn’t mean they’re all gone. The older ones will pop up and after you’ve exhausted the 3200 tweet delete limit, you’ll have to go through the process again.
While I made the mistake of nuking my entire recent timeline, tweet eraser — http://www.tweeteraser.com allows you to filter and delete in bulk and this service should be used over tweet delete .net, which is more a retroactive filter. This is the service I’ve been using for bulk deletion. However, it doesn’t delete all RTs which has been extremely frustrating to say the least, and that will require further digging since I can’t undo the RT manually either.
Anyways, it is worth investing the time in cleaning up your social media. Once you’ve done so, you can have piece of mind and going forward you will be more selective in what you choose to say. And PS, don’t forget about Facebook!
Over and out – MK