back to article HORROR! Imagine if anyone could find out EVERYTHING you EVER tweeted

Remember those dreadful, toe-curling, never-to-be-referred-to-again tweets you tweeted years back? The ones that, thank everything that's good and kind in the universe, eventually vanished from human knowledge? Twitter remembers. Now everyone else will too. The post-profit website, founded in 2006, has built an index of every …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Generally speaking

    This means they indexed every hipper-than-thou's tweets about what was for lunch, what they were doing, etc. A lot of chaff in there. Anything really important, I'm sure was saved by the sender or the receiver, I'd hope. Nothing earth-shaking that could be packed in 140 characters that I've heard about has come out Twitter. Anything relatively important has been quoted to death in news stories and indexed already by the news site or Google. So I wonder what's the point?

    1. 's water music

      Re: Generally speaking

      presumably so that zombie tweets from years ago can resurface and trend again, a bit like those BBC News website stories from the 1990s that inexplicably make it into the Most Read/Most Popular side bar every so often.

      Who knew that twitter could become even more of an echo chamber?

  2. ltflugard

    Take back tweets and votes for dems

    I'd take back a few hot tweets and my vote for Obama if I could!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Applications

    I'm trying to think of any good uses for this capability, hmmmm...

    General research maybe? Could be a dissertation or twenty in the offing.

    Opposition research? Get dirt on that rotten so-and-so, heh heh.

    Discover what your new friend/lover/spouse REALLY thinks? Oy...

    Paid removal of embarrassing tweets? Now we're talking!

    Other than the first case, methinks something evil this way comes. Wheee!

    1. Cipher

      Re: Applications

      Big John inscribed:

      " Other than the first case, methinks something evil this way comes."

      From the second witch in Macbeth, to Bradbury, to el Reg:

      by the tapping of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes...

  4. frank ly

    This could be embarrassing

    "But our long-standing goal has been to let people search through every Tweet ever published."

    Did the tweety people know that?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: This could be embarrassing

      No-one cares what they are saying.

    2. Deano2099

      Re: This could be embarrassing

      Well you can delete tweets that you can see in your profile, presumably with this you'll be able to go back and delete your old stuff too if you want.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this really sensible?

    What about tweets of people no longer with us, or nasty/hateful/harrassing tweets etc? There is great scope here for upset if they can all come back to haunt.

    I suspect many people are happy to tweet whatever comes immediately to mind because they assume that they are ephemeral and that embaarrassing ones will be quickly forgotten. If that's no longer the case, then Twitter may see a dip in traffic as this sinks in.

    1. msknight Silver badge

      Re: Is this really sensible?

      That could be what they're after. A dip in traffic and reduction in costs. As more people find it harder to get jobs based on what they've slung on social media, the twerps will think about what they tweet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is this really sensible?

        You might be right about them wanting a dip in traffic, but I'm not sure about the cost angle - doesn't traffic mean profit?

        Perhaps it's a way of toning down future tweets without having to go to the expense of paying staff to police the thing?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That could be what they're after.

        Alternatively, maybe there will be saleable ad-space on the search page.

  6. Dazed and Confused

    Yawn!

    Google can instantly find the Usenet posts I made back in the late 80s, when the feed we had was UUCP based and I guess that qualifies me to be a newbie. As someone once said "The Internet is written in ink". Anything you do or say may be used in evidence against you.

  7. Velv
    Black Helicopters

    Hmmmm, Twitter setting itself up for a fight with the EU then? Right to be forgotten? Right to privacy? Ability to delete what has been published?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Assistant Chief Constable Theresamanbehindyer?

      Does it have European presence though?

  8. Andrew 49

    Searching - snapbird; plus download your archive of tweets

    People have been able to search (albeit slowly) older tweets for a while now, using Snapbird.org

    You can also request you complete archive of tweets (click on your name/icon top-right -> Settings -> Your Twitter archive) -- a while later you get an email with a link to where you can download a file containing everything you've done on Twitter.

    ~Andrew~

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Samaritans Radar all over again. Cue outrage.

  10. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Sinister

    Imagine if it turned out that the phone company recorded every phone call and decided to put them online and searchable.

    Ditto the post office doing the same for every letter ever sent.

    Yes, technology has changed and yes, these are different companies with differnt obligations and rules and the data is "public" to a greater extent, but I think most users have a slighty greater expectation of privacy than is being afforded them. Morals, ethics and laws are a long way behind the abilities of the tech and the expectations of the users.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Sinister

      I see the GCHQ/NSA downvoter is on the ball today. Must be performance review time.

    2. Dazed and Confused
      Big Brother

      Re: Sinister

      > has built an index of every public tweet submitted in the last eight years

      Imagine if it turned out that the phone company recorded every phone call and decided to put them online and searchable.

      I thought the idea of a tweet was you were shouting out to anyone in the world who could be bothered to listen to you. This isn't the same as recording every phone call you make or letter you write. With those you should have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This is why people (GCHQ/NSA/your government's equally nosy gang of eves droppers/your boss) snooping on email is so reprehensible. You have an expectation (even if naively) that this should be private.

      But a tweet is a broadcast.

      You put it out there for everyone.

      So you can't complain when everyone can access it.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Sinister

      I agreed with you right up to the "expectation of privacy" part.... phone company and mail ARE private. Posting anything that you feel like on Twitter is very public. There's a difference between having a quiet phone call with a friend and climbing on the rooftop and shouting.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about

    Historical research, such as looking into retrocausal tweets to see if people can predict the future?

    Also long term trends, search histories etc.

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