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To Auto-Archive Or To Not Auto-Archive, Twitter Edition

Interesting discussion on Twitter a few days ago around the notion of auto-expiring tweets -- aka "ep
First Draught
To Auto-Archive Or To Not Auto-Archive, Twitter Edition
By M.G. Siegler • Issue #135 • View online
Interesting discussion on Twitter a few days ago around the notion of auto-expiring tweets – aka “ephemeral tweets”. Obviously, this is timely given that we seem to be in the midst of an epidemic of athletes getting caught with their 140-character (these tweets were from back in the day) feet in their collective mouths. And this has spread to Hollywood as well in a very high profile manner.
One twist on this that I think I like more is the idea of auto-archiving tweets. That is, these tweets still exist for you to see – but only for you to see – in an archive you control. Instagram and a few other services currently have this option (though it’s not automatic). In an ideal state, I think you could set all of your tweets (or some on a case-by-case basis) to automatically be archived after a certain amount of time that you could also set – an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, etc.
But again, the tweets would always still exist in your archive, so they were serve as a record of your thoughts and shares. And if you wanted to surface them to the public again you could via the self retweet! As I joked – but not really – this would serve the purpose of retweeting old tweets when you’re right about something and when you’re not, leaving those archived.
Kayvon Beykpour, who runs product at Twitter (and co-created Periscope!) chimed in with another twist: “Does your pov on this change when thinking about replies vs non-replies?” It’s an interesting thought – yes, I think I would be okay with this just being for “main” tweets versus “reply” tweets… But I also think that opens a can of worms around visibility and transparency. If a tweet is archived but a reply is not…
Of course, that’s an issue right now with people who delete tweets. Maybe the solution is for the child tweet to follow the permissions of the parent tweet by default (if the parent tweet is archived, the children tweet will be as well)? But as you can see, this starts to get a bit messy…
Still, it feels like having some optionality here with regard to the longevity of public tweets is the right call. I’m fine with leaving the default as “public forever” but maybe some tweets just make more sense for a moment in time… Or maybe some accounts would be happier letting tweets live for a certain amount of time by default. This isn’t an easy thing to think through, so I don’t envy Twitter on this topic…

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