Twitter has opened up its archives so users can now search every tweet ever made, giving them access to the more than half a trillion (yes, that’s trillion with a “tr”) tweets made since Twitter launched in 2006. Previously, Twitter limited search results to recent activity, focusing on high-engagement subjects, although some third-party services archived tweets in searchable format.
In a blog post, Twitter’s engineers explained: “Our search engine excelled at surfacing breaking news and events in real time, and our search index infrastructure reflected this strong emphasis on recency. But our long-standing goal has been to let people search through every Tweet ever published."
Among other benefits, the new search functionality allows users to recover their own entire tweet histories or those of other users, as well as full conversations surrounding particular topics over time -- for example, a TV show over multiple seasons.
Naturally, some Twitter users are concerned that the expanded search functionality could uncover tweets that for whatever reason they would rather not see unearthed -- like, say, that drunken tirade provoked by an uncooperative client and two bottles of merlot five years ago. Happily Twitter and some other services have provided a way for users to permanently delete your own past tweets so no one has to see the incriminating posts.
For individual tweets users can just find the Post’s “More” option and choose “delete.” To consign entire conversations, subjects, or periods of tweets to oblivion, services like TweetDeleter allow you to search for, and destroy, tweets containing key phrases or calendar dates. Other services that offer similar functionality include Tweet Delete, Twit Wipe, Delete All My Tweets, and Tweet Eraser. However all these platforms require you to hand over your login ID and password in order to scrub your account.
Of course, those third-party services will still have your tweets archived, including one rather permanent organization -- a little place called the Library of Congress.