Tweets have consequences. Just last week a writer revealed he was denied a job opportunity for a tweet about wanting to “burn down” Whole Foods. The clearly facetious arson tweet in question? It was posted over three years ago.
Do you remember everything you tweeted three years ago? What innocuous, outdated, or vulgar jokes could come back to haunt you? Even if you make your account private, anything you’ve posted in the past could potentially leak out. Luckily, you have a few tools at your disposal to search and nuke posts that would embarrass or hurt who you are now. Whether you have two followers or two million, you can and should delete the unsavoury parts of your online footprint. Here are the ways you can give your Twitter history a deep clean.
Optional: First download your Twitter history
Can’t bear to remove every trace of your Twitter? There’s a simple process to download your Twitter archive if you need it for posterity, or security, or whatever personal reason you may have for holding onto all your past posts.
Go to your Twitter settings and select “Your Account” and then “Download an archive of your data.” After you request your data, you’ll be asked to verify your account. After verification, you’ll receive a message stating it can take up to 24 hours for Twitter to process your request.
Find bad words you should delete
You might not want to delete years of tweets en masse — maybe you think that looks suspicious, or it simply feels unnecessary. To filter out select tweets based on time period or specific keyword, Twitter’s Advanced Search is the feature for you. Here’s how to use it.
- Use Twitter’s search bar (the top right corner on desktop). Enter your keywords, e.g. “burn down” or “Whole Foods.”
- Click “More options” and then “Advanced search.”
- Fill out the filters you need. You can limit the results to just your account and a certain time period.
- Delete whatever comes up.
Advanced search is a lifesaver if you know exactly which tweet (or era of tweet) you’re looking for, but don’t want to start scrolling back to 2012. However, if you know that you want to delete basically every thought you posted since 2012, keep reading.
Use a bulk deletion service
There are plenty of sites that will delete your tweets in bulk to give you a fresh start. Plus, there are enough solid options for free, so you shouldn’t need to use one that requires a subscription free. All work similarly, allowing you to mass delete tweets based on filters like age and keywords.
Delete your account
It’s come to this. The nuclear option. To be as safe as possible, eliminate the problem at the source. Go into Settings, scroll to the bottom and select “Deactivate My Account.”
Deleting your account is an irreversible process. Your old tweets are officially gone for good (unless someone has screenshots). I imagine deactivation also comes with the sensation of one million pounds being lifted from your shoulders. One can dream.