Tweets Can Be Ephemeral, but Your Likes Are Forever

WIRED | 8/5/2019 | Paris Martineau
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Like most things online, tweets can ostensibly be forever, but they probably shouldn’t. It’s a lesson many Twitter users have taken to in recent years, resulting in upwards of 5 million people enlisting independent services like Tweet­Delete and Tweet Archive Eraser in the hopes of ridding themselves of years of publicly accessible (usually bad) takes, comments, and posts.

Paris Martineau covers platforms, online influence, and social media manipulation for WIRED.

Services - Let - Users - Tweets - Intervals

The services let users auto-delete their tweets at specific intervals or wipe the slate clean by deleting all of their tweets. But despite such efforts, and some clever browser hacks, one sizable part of users’ Twitter history remains public and largely permanent: likes.

Twitter users can delete some of their past likes—one at a time. But Twitter doesn't allow users to delete likes in bulk. Twitter didn’t return a request for comment, but it makes sense that a platform that thrives on the engagement of its users would have a vested interest in ensuring that users’ more communal contributions aren’t easily wiped from the site years after the fact.

Twitter - Option - Services - People - Twitter

Since Twitter doesn’t offer the option, outside services have sprung up to help people erase their Twitter past. Those services tap Twitter’s Application Programming Interface (API), which gives an app limited access to your account, once you’ve authorized it. Through the API, the services can delete all your terrible 2009-era takes, says Fayssal Martani, creator of Tweet Archive Eraser. But likes are a different beast altogether.

“When we issue a delete request to Twitter for a tweet or retweet, if the API returns that the tweet was deleted, it is guaranteed to be deleted,” Martani explained. “For likes, that's not the case. Twitter returns that the like is either deleted or ‘not found,’ but sometimes it is deleted, sometimes it is not. There is no way...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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