Miskatonic University Press

I deleted everything from Twitter

privacy ruby

Twitter’s a hell of a place. A while ago I removed the app from my phone and logged out on my laptops and would only use my tablet, at home, to check it, which meant instead of checking it frequently I’d just scroll through a lot of stuff two or three times a day. That works pretty well. It’s enough to see what people are talking about and catch up on pointers to useful things.

I’d post on Twitter when I made a new blog post, and hardly ever outside of that. I like to own my content, not hand it over to some private American company.

Still, I was feeling weighted down by all my past tweets. Aside from not being on a platform I control (see IndieWeb), and my words being mined for profit (probably not much, but still), there’s concern about what the US border guards might want to do about social media. I read Peter Rukavina’s Atwitter and thought, “By Jove, maybe I should delete all my old stuff.” And I did.

I downloaded my Twitter archive, then started deleting some old tweets by hand, but I had over 4,904 (which isn’t many on Twitter) and that wasn’t feasible. I used the excellent tool t, which lets you control Twitter at the command line. I already had this configured, and in fact it’s how I do most of my posting (with t update "Text of the tweet goes here.")

First I did this, to preview 30 tweets way back in my timeline, then delete them one by one by pressing “y” when it asked to confirm a deletion:

$ t timeline wdenton --number 2000 --csv | tail -30
$ for I in `t timeline wdenton --number 2000 --csv | tail -30 | cut -d, -f1`; do echo $I; t delete status $I; done

But that was way too slow, and since I was deleting everything there was no need to review it, so I worked in larger chunks and fed the “y” in automatically:

$ for I in `t timeline wdenton --number 1000 --csv | tail -400 | cut -d, -f1`; do echo $I; echo "y" | t delete status $I; done

Now, somewhere in there something went a little wrong. I’d intended to leave my last dozen tweets up, but they got erased. So be it. There was no going back after that. I’m sorry it messed up the responses and retweets I got on a few recent tweets, but we must accept what fate decrees.

Rush, seen in Montreal while I was at Access 2012.  Great show.
Rush, seen in Montreal while I was at Access 2012. Great show.

Looking back, there was: enjoyable chit-chat; conference tweeting and interaction that brought back fond memories; a bunch of utterly forgettable stuff; a fair bite of shite; some good jokes; some good quotes; a lot about Code4Lib and Access; not as much about cats as you might expect from a librarian; more about AC/DC and Rush than you might; books; Emacs; climate change; and a lot about staplers.

The first one was from 10 August 2008, at the IFLA conference in Québec City:

Running into people like @weelibrarian, @jambina, former profs, and cow-orkers.

Self-contradictingly, after I post this, I’ll tweet about it, so my only tweet will be about how I deleted everything from Twitter.

Just saw this, one of the last to be deleted, a quote from Ed Summers, which will live on somewhere in his feed:

“I guess I’m pretty much happy whenever whatever the norm is people are breaking it.” @edsu