UPDATE: Twitter has now removed the Murdoch tweet completely. As a warning for future generations and/or media moguls, the rest of this article has been left as written.
Yesterday we reported about the arrival of Rupert Murdoch on Twitter, the ‘scandal’ that’s been caused by some of the messages he’s been sending on the network, and the accidental verification of a Twitter profile that pretended to be Murdoch’s wife, Wendi, but actually turned out to be a hoax.
Egg on Twitter’s face. Even worse, a rather disparaging tweet that Murdoch wrote about Britons that he was immediately pressured into removing hasn’t been deleted it all – it’s still there, in public, and everyone can read it.
While it’s true that the tweet has vanished from Murdoch’s profile timeline, you can go directly to the tweet via its permalink.
You can also embed the tweet into your blog or website, as I have done below.
Maybe Brits have too many holidays for broke country!
— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) January 1, 2012
And here’s a screencap, just in case this eventually gets resolved by Twitter (which it did – see update at the beginning of this article).
Why has this happened? Well, it’s a bit of a mystery, to be honest. In days of yore when you deleted a tweet from Twitter it never actually got removed – it stayed visible in Twitter search and in backlinks. But that changed quite a long time ago – deleted tweets are now actually meant to be deleted. This is official policy. Twitter says that deleted tweets can sometimes take a while to disappear from Twitter search, but it’s been 72 hours. What exactly is their definition of ‘a while’?
I just tested this myself on my own profile by publishing and immediately deleting a tweet, and it’s no longer accessible via the permalink. It’s gone. Nuked. Done a runner. Been immediately removed.
So, this means that Murdoch’s tweet has, for some reason, and for the timebeing at least, been preserved, at least via the permalink. Maybe when a tweet builds up a certain amount of retweets and/or favourites it has to be saved for the system to work, even if the poster later removes it? Maybe the amount of attention a given tweet receives is exponentially connected to how long it stays visible in Twitter search?
If so, that’s a pretty big hole in the system, and it’s one that I’m not all that comfortable with. Sure, Murdoch was an ass, and the damage is long since done, but if Twitter says that users can delete their own tweets, then users should be able to delete their own tweets. Instantly. I mean, how hard can it be? We all accidentally delete things instantly all the time.
In this instance it might seem like a good thing that a mogul like Murdoch pays for his snarky remark, but you know that in the big picture this is going to even out, and bad things are going to happen to good folk.
Innocent people are going to get trampled upon, lose their jobs and families, get addicted to amphetamines and be forced to work the night shift at petrol stations, just because a tweet they thought had been long deleted was still ‘out there’, biding its time and plotting their downfall.
It’s not good enough. Think of the children, Twitter. Think of the children. And fix this once and for all.