Twitter appears to have quietly altered a key way deleted tweets can be preserved
Now, there are untold numbers of old articles where instead of a tweet there’s just a blank box without context. For example, tweets from former President Donald Trump were routinely cited by media organizations. Even after his account was permanently suspended, the text of those missives was still viewable on the sites where it had been embedded. Now, that’s no longer the case.
Twitter product manager Eleanor Harding told Marks the change was made “to better respect when people have chosen to delete their Tweets.” A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment further on the change.
Still, it’s a curious move because, as Marks points out in his post, Twitter’s original choice to maintain the text of deleted tweets was an intentional choice on the part of Twitter engineers. “If it’s deleted, or 1000 years in the future, the text remains,” former Twitter engineer Ben Ward wrote in 2011 when embedding tweets was first announced.
That’s in line with statements from other twitter executives over the years about the importance of Twitter as a kind of “public record.” For example, former CEO Jack Dorsey said he was hesitant to build an edit button because it could erode Twitter’s ability to function as a public record. “It’s really critical that we preserve that,” he said at the time.
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