Removing My Old Tweets

Over the course of the last few weeks, I've moved, more or less completely over to Mastodon.

I've been using Twitter less and less, and at times I've gone days without logging back in. Even when I have, it's often been out of morbid curiosity.

Having recently gone through the thought process for my Mastodon toots, I've decided to start automatically deleting old Tweets.

This post lays out a little bit of why, as well as how.

A Change in Twitter

Since Musk took over, Twitter has changed quite dramatically.

Whilst he may claim not to have changed moderation policies, his public statements have emboldened some users to see how far the bounds can be pushed, leading to a an unprecedented rise in hate speech.

That's only been made worse by the subsequent amnesty on suspended accounts.

In fact, Musk's attraction to shit-housery has already backfired: weeks after reinstating Kanye West's account, Musk had to suspend him again for tweeting a Star of David with a Swastika embedded in it (just hours after Kanye had declared "I like Hitler" in an Infowars interview that made even Alex Jones uncomfortable).

Not that Musk seems to have learned the lesson, having since let Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin return.

Andrew Anglin of DailyStormer fame has been allowed back onto Twitter

Dumbfuckery and hate seems to be flooding Twitter, but, it's not just these which have made Twitter less useful to me.

Many of the communities that I was in, and many of those I followed, have also left (for example, most Infosec users discuss things on Mastodon now). There are exceptions, of course, and I'm already missing seeing their content.

The result of this, though, is a Twitter feed that's exceptionally quiet, and at times, outright dead.

There is still plenty to be found in the trending column, but much of it is bullshit too (not that it hasn't always been bad).

Top of the list today is #twitterfiles which chronicles the release of Twitter documents relating to the suppression of the Hunter Biden Laptop story.

That chronicle, is written by a journalist so inept that he claims to have received the information from "sources" at Twitter, despite the fact Musk has openly tweeted about their cooperation.

Conversely, Musk has been seen referring to it as a 1st Amendment violation, despite the Journalist saying there's no evidence of Government involvement (not to mention that Biden wasn't in power yet, Trump was)

Although several sources recalled hearing about a “general” warning from federal law enforcement that summer about possible foreign hacks, there’s no evidence - that I've seen - of any government involvement in the laptop story. In fact, that might have been the problem

That same journalist has handled the disclosure in such a cackhanded manner that he doxxed Jack Dorsey by failing to properly redact his personal email address. Worse, it ends in .pizza, which has resulted in QAnon pizzagate nuts coming for him

What a buch of bell-ends

The place now seems to be flooded by conspiracy theorists, many of whom seem to invoke the US constitution with no understanding of what it actually says.

And, of course, there's no shortage of users who feel obliged to simp for a billionaire

Weird nerds and valid criticism of Elon Musk

With no meaningful or interesting content to consume, it's hard to see what the draw for me as a user is supposed to be.

Moving Away

I wrote recently that it was obvious that advertisers would not want their brands associated with the type of content which is becoming increasingly dominant on Twitter. This has proven to be true, and Twitter is now offering significant incentives to lure advertisers back, although given the brand protection concerns, it seems unlikely that many will be tempted, especially given how well things went for some brands after Elon's last grand idea.

As inconsequential as it is for Twitter, the same is true for me: I no longer want my content on there either.

When writing about Facebook previously, I said that I was no longer willing to "feed the beast", and the same is true here.

However small and inconsequential my contribution may be, I want no part of it to in any way go toward the user, workforce and democracy hostile ambitions of a judgement-impaired centi-billionaire edgelord with poor impulse control.

Ephemeral Content

I published a post recently laying out the rationale for and against enabling automatic post deletion on Mastodon and couldn't, ultimately, come up with any strong arguments for retaining content indefinitely.

Even without the concerns about Musk's new hellfest, the case for retaining tweets on Twitter isn't really any stronger.

All of the arguments against retaining apply here too, with the only real argument in favour of retention being that I've linked out to tweets from posts.

But, the relevant posts have been updated to point to my archive of Twitter activity.

Effect on Traffic

Now, I'm not totally insane: although the decision is made, I wasn't going to enact it without developing an understanding of the likely impact on traffic.

Looking at referral sources over the last 12 months, Twitter is a very very small contributor to referred traffic:

Social media Referrers

I don't actively work to share my content via Reddit, and yet it's generates many more pageviews than Twitter.

In fact, in an unfiltered chart of referrer proportions, Twitter only just makes it into the visible portion of the graph (look for the tiny yellow line)

Referrer proportions

So, whilst I will miss what Twitter used to be, the traffic that it generates really doesn't justify itself (I really wouldn't like to be Musk if advertiser's graphs look anything like this).

Old Tweet deletion

I've configured the hosted instance of Semiphemeral to delete Tweets older than 1 month, unless they pass a retweet or like threshold.

As a result, old tweets are already starting to disappear. New tweets (as and when I make them) will automatically be deleted after a month.

It is possible to self-host Semiphemeral but, honestly, it's better to use the hosted version. In order to use the self-hosted version you'll need to obtain a Twitter API Key, which requires you to provide Twitter with a verified phone number.

A verified phone number is required to create an API key

I've written in the past about why requiring phone numbers is a very bad idea, given Twitter's new proprieter is known for playing things fast and loose, providing Twitter with your contact details seems like a very bad idea.