Deleting my tweets

14th May 2020

Over the past couple of years I’ve slowly stopped using twitter. Initially I was just tweeting less, while still reading lots of it. Then as they slowly broke Tweetbot by removing APIs I slowly just stopped using the service.

I tried to start using it a bit more when the global pandemic kicked off to try and recreate the old water cooler usage that made it big years ago. But rather than making me feel more connected it just made me feel more anxious. So I stopped again, I’m still not sure if it’s the right service for me anymore.

When Phil recently mentioned about deleting tweets that triggered an itch that I’d long had. This isn’t a new thing, Mark has been deleting his tweets for years, I remember when he first started and I didn’t understand it. But now I’m not even using the service myself, I’m totally on board.

So I’ve deleted my twitter history of anything older than a month (after downloading a copy for myself first). Except for this tweet, my very first tweet, it still seems appropriate to keep around.

This also proved a nice excuse for me to write a little code. I’ve written a tiny little lambda function to automate deleting new tweets I write, tweet-delete. It automatically gets triggered once every 24 hours. There are other scripts out there that do this, but lots of them required a cron job to trigger them, writing it as a lambda allows it to trigger itself, and I only have to pay for the execution time, which won’t even go above the free tier of lambda usage.

One slight gotcha that I’d not anticipated when I started writing the deletion script is that a users timeline only contains their 3,200 most recent tweets. To delete anything older than that the easiest way is to use the data export you can get from your account settings on twitter dot com. It will give you all your tweets in JSON with their respective ID’s. I then used a modified version of the lambda code to identify them and hit the API to delete those also.

And now I’m clear. With only a handful of tweets left on the platform. I imagine most governments and advertising agencies probably also have copies of my tweets, but such is the risk of something ever being on the internet.

It’s worth noting that someone does run which can do all of that without you needing to write any code, and for $10 will even delete your tweets beyond the 3,200 limit.