How to delete all your tweets

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Even this little birdy is deleting his tweets.
Even this little birdy is deleting his tweets.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Twitter is like that part of town where City Hall just lets anyone open up a bar or a restaurant. It’s lively, and it’s where everyone hangs out, but you certainly don’t want to take the wrong side street late at night. Maybe you’re ready to leave Twitter, thanks to its continued censorship of unknown individuals and simultaneous encouragement of hate speech and lies by more famous people and organizations.

If you’re serious about ditching Twitter, then you probably want to delete your tweets. Twitter feeds off “engagement.” If you delete your tweets, you leave nothing to engage with (although their “content” has probably been mined clean already). If you delete your tweets, and change your Twitter bio to say you’ve quit, this sends a stronger message than just slipping out the side door. It also helps stop someone else from pretending to be you.

Delete your tweets

Unfortunately, there’s no way to bulk-delete tweets from Twitter itself. And Twitter only lets third-party apps delete 3,200 tweets at a time. Depending on how much you tweet, that may be plenty, or nowhere near enough. I have around 15,000 tweets, which would mean five rounds of deletions.

Matt Haughey, founder of Metafilter, finally decided to quit Twitter this week, and has provided a guide of how to do so. It pretty much boils down to “Use TweetDeleter.” TweetDeleter is a paid service (its free tier is useless — five deletes per day).

Matt Haughey quit Twitter without actually quitting Twitter.
Matt Haughey quit Twitter without actually quitting Twitter.
Photo: Cult of Mac

What you want to do is sign up for the $15-per-month Unlimited plan, which lets you delete an unlimited number of tweets. Then, when you’re done, you should delete your TweetDeleter account, and probably change your Twitter password for safe measure. TweetDeleter itself behaves badly, according to Haughey:

TweetDeleter might tweet out as you without your knowledge that you used TweetDeleter, which, frankly, is pretty shitty for some service you paid $15 to use for 3 hours. Remember to cancel your membership when you’re all complete, since you won’t need to use TweetDeleter again.

Classy stuff. Haughey also paid with PayPal. TweetDeleter works around the 3,200-tweet limit by having you upload an archive of your tweets. Then it uses those to search for matching tweets and deletes them individually. It’ll take a few hours (as of this writing, the site’s services are currently unavailable, which inspires yet more confidence).

From what I can see, none of the tweet-deleting services look particularly trustworthy. So TweetDeleter will be as good as any. And it’s not like it can do much with your account that you don’t want it to do — you’re virtually destroying it anyway.

Life after Twitter

So where do you go after Twitter? The problem with Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube, Instagram and the like is that they have all the power. They own your words and pictures, and even your relationships. Manton Reece, creator of Micro.blog, summed it up like this:

Over the last dozen years we have let massive centralized social networks gain far too much power. We started paying the price with the 2016 election and the fallout continues today. The solution is clear: post to your own site, encourage other people to get their own domain name, and support smaller social networks like Micro.blog that are empowered by design to curate.

This seems like an impossible mission. After all, if you post to your own microblog instead of Twitter, who will read you? Everyone is on Twitter. But think about it another way. Most folks on Twitter have only a handful of followers. So hosting their thoughts elsewhere wouldn’t really make them any less popular. And people with large follower counts (Micro.blog doesn’t have follower counts, BTW) may have the pull to take their audience with them.

Or you could just ditch social networking altogether. After all, it’s mostly misery, spite and cat videos. Hilarious, cute, cat videos.