Request to allow tweets to be deleted


The User Requests

Over on the UK Web Focus blog Liam Green-Hughes requested that it should be possible for users to delete their tweets from the Twapper Keeper archive. Liam (@liamgh) linked to his comment on Twitter which led to a subsequent discussion of some of the issues: @JulietCulver suggested thatsurely if you write anything on the internet you have to assume it’ll get archived?” and @sputuk (Nick Sharratt) felt thatopting out of archive tweets would be like demanding the right to insist people don’t remember what you say.what you put in public belongs to the public IMO“. Meanwhile @mhawksey (Martin Hawksey) pointed out the middle ground: “I agree with you [@sputuk] but think @liamgh also has a point. The twiter T&C mean I retain IPR for this tweet. Archive needs optout 4 legal“.


Although Liam’s subsequent comment that he is “Not convinced of need for archiving” doesn’t reflect the growing interest in the Twitter archiving which has been demonstrated by the Library of Congress’s recent announcement that it will archive all tweets, he also felt that the JISC-funded development work should provide “an opportunity to set a good example“. This is a very pertinent point.

We are also aware that the Twapper Keeper service can provide a valuable role in supporting other value-added services. Martin Hawksey has already provided one demonstration of the value of a Twitter archive with his Twitter captioning service which has already been used to provide captions for videos of Gordown Browns Building Britain’s Digital Future Announcement and JISC 10 plenary talks. But as I pointed out in my post on Twitter and the Digital Economy Bill services such as this could be liable to closure if an overzealous interpretation of the Bill was taken. Developers of such services would, no doubt, be reassured if it was possible to delete their own tweets. And such an approach would avoid the absurdities of having to request each individual person who tweets for permission to reuse their tweets!

Our Plans

Our plan is to provide a way for users to formally request that (1) any tweets that we have archived be deleted and (2) opt’out of any future archiving for their user account.

Initially this deletion and filter will be manually setup for each user after they make the request and a automated filter will be established to filter tweets being archived.

If there is a significant number of people requesting this be done, an automated request form will be established (based upon OAuth login credentials of user).

We’d welcome feedback on these plans.


4 Responses to “Request to allow tweets to be deleted”

  1. mhawksey Says:

    Ah if only twitter updated their terms and conditions to require all users to make all their tweets available via Creative Commons (which as @liamgh pointed out in our subsequent conversation was a feature of



  2. The Components of Twitter to be Archived « UK Web Focus Says:

    […] tweets to be deleted from the archive and users to opt-out of Twapper Keeper archiving, has been identified as an important feature, particularly for UK users in light of the uncertainties regarding Twitter and copyright in light […]

  3. Jeremy Says:

    if only I’d seen this before I commented here!
    But I agree with @liamgh. Yes, obviously when you publish something to the web (as in a public twitter stream) it’s not under your control anymore, but all the same you use Twitter thinking you understand its properties, one of which is that your tweets disappear from view pretty quickly (at present). To suddenly discover that this isn’t the case might be alarming, because even though nothing improper has happened, it’s still a violation of a reasonable expectation. I think that’s bad form, even it it breaks no laws (though that question of IPR is clearly important).
    The right approach, if you ask me, would be to archive hashtags, which are from many users and self-evidently intended for public consumption because they’ve been tagged, as you do now and to do as you’re planning and delete tweets upon request. But for personal streams, you should only archive these upon the request of the owner – opt-in not opt-out. Of course, anyone could code something to do what twapperkeeper does and archive other people’s streams without their permission, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
    The LOC initiative, as I noted elsewhere, comes with a pledge to make the archive available to researchers under particular conditions, which is some sort of protection too.
    By the way I love TwapperKeeper!

  4. Plans for Updates to Twapper Keeper Functionality and APIs « Twapper Keeper's Blog Says:

    […] Process for user to opt out of archiving (requested by Liam Hugh-Green and Jeremy Ottevanger). […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: