Think you deleted all your embarrassing old tweets? A bug is bringing them back for a wide swath of users

May 22, 2023, 2:59 PM UTC
Twitter is resurfacing deleted tweets for some users.

Many Twitter users who have deleted old tweets are seeing them reappear without warning. That could cause all sorts of embarrassment for users who had hoped their forgotten and discarded tweets would stay that way—and raises questions about the control users have over their own feeds over time.

The problem was first flagged by security expert and open-source developer Dick Morrell, who sent up a red flag on Mastodon.

“Last November I deleted all my Tweets. Every single one,” he wrote. “I then ran Redact and deleted all my likes, my media and retweets. 38k tweets gone For six months I’ve had sub 5 tweets online Woke up today to find 34k of them restored by Twitter who presumably brought a server farm back up.”

He’s hardly alone. One user who annually deletes their tweets told Fortune he found five years’ worth of deleted messages once again active on the site. Morrell reports he has received over 400 reports from people who saw messages restored.

The problem has seemingly not affected every user. Elon Musk’s feed, for example, does not appear to be affected by the glitch, judging by a spot check of tweets he posted, then removed in the past.

The reason for the bug is unknown. (Twitter no longer responds to media inquiries, replying only with the poop emoji.) Some, including one person who claimed to be a former Twitter employee, suspect it could be a result of moving servers between data centers, accidentally restoring the data.

In some cases, the resurrection of deleted Tweets will be unnoticed or an inconvenience. For others, though, it could resurface uncomfortable hot takes that could result in controversy or humiliation. There’s no way to know if your feed is affected short of combing through your old tweets.

“Twitter is basically Hotel California now. You can check out anytime you like; but your tweets may never leave!” Benedikt Beckmann, a molecular biologist at the Humboldt University Berlin, wrote on Mastodon.

While there are tools that delete past tweets, most will only remove a small number for free. Because Twitter now charges an enterprise fee for API access, many of those services now require a paid subscription for mass deletes.

Twitter’s latest glitch comes as Instagram prepares to launch its own Twitter clone and Jack Dorsey’s BlueSky gains traction with beta users.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.

Read More

Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward