A few weeks ago, I decided that my tweets will be ephemeral. Unless they are tagged with “#DNT”, my tweets will auto-delete after 3 days1. After being on Twitter for over a decade, and taking a months-long hiatus from using the platform recently, it was not a very hard decision.
I primarily use Twitter to share opinions around current events. Twitter, like other social media platforms, encourages reactions and speed. I tend to be very candid there, often calling others out. These fast reactions are often full of emotions and are not always well-thought out.
On your social media profile, your historical tweets will be attributed to the person you are now. When you see someone’s social media profile today, you do so in today’s context. Unfortunately, there’s no way to convey that context over the tubes. That leaves very little room for people to evolve and change for the better.
My tweets from years ago are pretty mundane, and likely not controversial; I still choose not to be represented by them.
Due to the real-time nature of Twitter, there’s often no engagement on tweets after first few hours, much less days or years. Think about it, how many times do you get people retweeting you the next day, or on the third day? Unless you are a big-shot, probably rarely.
One push-back I have received to this is that deleting tweets breaks conversations; it makes others’ replies to my tweets look broken. That’s fair. My argument to this is the same—how often do people look back at their conversations from days ago? Not often. Those who do though should probably set up some sort of backup.
My purpose here is to not scrub things I’ve said. I’m aware of archiving services like the Internet Archive (donate to them). I know they can preserve my tweets—forever—before I delete them. I know that the Internet is not ephemeral. My goal here is to be more in control of my public profile and persona, while being honest in the moment.
Twitter is a great tool if you use it right. Of course it has a lot of harassment, racism, trolling, and other filth there. To me though, the ability to control what I see, and to control what others see about me is paramount. It makes the experience a little better.
If you want to do the same, I wrote a tool for it. Just set it up to run on a cron schedule, and it will automatically delete your tweets, retweets and favorites.
# Every day at 4pm 0 16 * * * ENV_FILE_PATH=/home/prod.env /home/fleets
1: I may change this to 2 days in the future.