I’m deleting all my old tweets.

I’m deleting all my old tweets and will delete them on an ongoing basis – every tweet older than three months.

Why? Because I am growing increasingly uncomfortable about the way in which our historical data is weaponized online. Tweets are particularly susceptible to this – they’re particularly easy to decontextualize. And looking back on my Twitter history, I can see that how I’ve used the service has changed dramatically over the years. I can see that; I’m not sure others, without context, could or would.

I hit “delete.”

I reckon if it was an important enough idea, I blogged about it. (If I didn’t, oh well. I’ll do better from here on out.) The stories that I write on my blogs are (obviously) longer than the 140 characters of Twitter. I think they’re more nuanced. I spend more time crafting my thoughts here. Moreover, the only person that’s responsible for the words I write on my blog is me. There are no @-mentions, no retweets. Yes, I can link and cite, but those references are trackable, discoverable in a different way.

As someone who cares deeply about history – historical records, archives, and the like – deleting my tweets is painful. I’ll feel remorse, I’m sure. But I also feel no obligation to have my personal data available publicly, in the hands of corporations and not under my own ownership and control. (I do have a copy of all my tweets, just as I have a copy of the old Facebook account I deleted. When I die, I’ll bequeath all this digitalia to the Casper Community College library. They’ll be thrilled, I’m sure.)

If you’ve linked to or embedded one of my tweets in an article, my apologies. I’ve taken screenshots of two of my popular ones that I see people resurface from the depths of Twitter history:

I also took screenshots of the story I recently told on Twitter about my experiences pre-Obamacare: “Life and Death Before the Affordable Care Act.”

I’m hoping this will encourage me to blog more. I don’t think it’ll stop me from tweeting, although I imagine knowing that this is all quite ephemeral will probably change my behavior somewhat. We shall see. (Or we won’t see. Depends on if you or me grab screenshots.)

Audrey Watters


Audrey Watters


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