> The cull will include users who stopped posting to the site because they died - unless someone with that person's account details is able to log-in.
Yeah, this is bad.
Archive Team is making an effort to archive twitter accounts of dead users. Please see these links:
My first thought was Hal Finney, whose account I occasionally browse for a reminder of what twitter was like 10 years ago.
>Harold Thomas Finney II (May 4, 1956 – August 28, 2014) was a developer for PGP Corporation, and was the second developer hired after Phil Zimmermann. In his early career, he was credited as lead developer on several console games. He also was an early bitcoin contributor and received the first bitcoin transaction from bitcoin's creator Satoshi Nakamoto 
This is only one example. So many historical figures gone to free up some vanity names.
"Just back from walking the dogs"
Maybe Lambda + CloudWatch Events? AWS probably won't go away for decades.
Does your credit card automatically close when your death is reported to the financial system, or can you direct it to stay open in your will + set aside a bit of money to pay off the couple-cent bill in perpetuity?
In a case like that, I suppose a debit card or credit card with an automatic transfer would stay active for some time.
Wow. Some leaky faucets or automatic plant watering system would have kept him undiscovered for even longer.
By 2014 is was imploded. There were around 30 cars still parked there.
So the question would be does your account stay active despite an expired credit card which is never invoked cos you never put your account into debt?
Just like twitters in this instance.
So if you fell under the free tier then I'm curious if it would continue to run indefinitely.
I didn't remove mine for the longest time, though his number has long been reused by someone else; I only did when I finally got a notice that that person joined Signal and Telegram. Too spooky to see "[your father] has joined Signal!"
Maybe with some kind of process to re-activate the account under the original name (or a new one if it has since been taken). And some kind of hands-on resolution process for people who accidentally got deactivated. Feels tractable.
> The site said it was because users who do not log-in were unable to agree to its updated privacy policies.
That’s a lot of potential digital content that will go dark.
This is the exact purpose of Section 230 and why it is so important to preserve it.
Sadly, I've noticed that DMs don't seem to be forever on twitter as all of our private messages to each other are all gone, the bulk were gone before he even passed away.
Given his account is verified I would hope that Twitter keeps that content as long as the service survives, but for those with family and friends that have passed that weren't high profile, they may also take comfort in going through then posts of those accounts and this is kinda blah.
I get it from a cost view, it costs money to keep all of that data but I somewhat feel that a company that has user created content is socially obligated to maintain that content as long as they continue to have that product or until the user wants it removed whichever comes first.
Also, Twitter may disagree with you on its lifespan. I wouldn't, but I do believe that unless they do start archiving, it will reduce its lifespan, perhaps considerably.
BTW Facebook have had the option to memorialize the profile of the deceased for a while. Things seems to have worked out fine for them.
Even migrating those to Pocket (which I hope doesn't do similarly, though it remains all but useless), I've got hundreds of link-shortened articles I need to track down, one by one.
Tweets are text, so quote them as text?
Also if you're documenting something like John Smith said "Kill all Muppets, they're taking human jobs" and his publicist goes "John, you really need to delete that tweet" and he does, you can show a screenshot of it to prevent revisionist history.
at least that's the way it looks when they load on a ridiculously slow internet connection, i've never actually looked at the embed code.
If computational resources keep getting cheaper exponentially (even at a low rate), keeping eg 1 GiB around forever only costs a finite amount of money.
(Similar to how we often treat integers as unit-sized in asymptotic analysis of algorithms, even though we know that we need a logarithmic number of bits for truly large numbers.)
whether the accounts are moved to the internet archive or some twitter-hosted archive, the value in twitter is not in old tweets. i think most people would be better off if all of twitter had an automatic expiry.
I also find the insinuation that dead users provide no value absurd. Aside from current events, the human condition doesn’t really change, which is why we can still enjoy books written hundreds of years ago.
It's tied to someone's year-end KPIs.
6 months is too short for any account.
I can understand the need to cull some never really used accounts. There are a lot of never really logged on accounts filling up the space. So some weeding of those is understandable.
But not ones that have been used but not that active any more. E.g. dead, seriously ill in hospital, backpacking for a year or travelling to Mars.
Or simple just stopped tweeting for a while or permanently. I am sure many now dormant accounts have tweets linked from pages across the internet.
I do hate services that recycle usernames. So open for abuse.
I have a couple that is merely business or project related that tweet once per year if that. They should not be deleted.
I also have a few that I just created to demo something. After a year or so I can not argue against them being deleted.
I registered a few accounts for my kids, who are still too young to use it but thought I'd ensure they have the option of choosing their name as their handle. Never tweeted, so probably a prime candidate for deletion. Unfortunately.
I/we don't know the criteria they use specifically internally to decide who might get deleted. But I hope it is some sort of scoring based on several criteria. Not just when they last logged in. like:
* how many tweets have they sent
* where the account used over time, not just after registering
* last login
* how many times did they login
* does it have a profile picture
* detailed profile
* have they requested not to be deleted
* are any of their tweets backlinked from other sites
* have x followers
* following/followers is more than x
Twitter is not the real world, despite what Twitter addicts and journalists (who benefit from Twitter because it makes their jobs easier) would like you to believe, most normal people barely use it.
If Twitter disappeared tomorrow I think you'd be surprised how little it would matter.
I feel context is vitally important here, usernames are an important identify in who said what at what time, and can be used "on the record".
Twitter is not and has never been an officially sanctioned government press release channel. The consequences to government and policy would be trivial to none. Since most of the tweets from Trump are void of fact/research or are bizarre conspiracy theories I suspect a troll taking over the account would go largely unnoticed.
In a more practical context I was in CENTCOM supporting troops in Syria when news of complete withdraw stunned the world via Twitter. The military did not act on a tweet. No formal change in policy in the government occurs via tweet.
In a more clear example remember back when Trump ordered, via tweet, the military will ban all transgender persons from military service? The military ignored that tweet without repercussion.
Does the military act on press releases? I would think both have importance based on how everyone else reacts to them, not because they serve as internal communication channels for the government.
Its like comparing the correspondence of a legal action from the government to a campaign rally. Just because many people in the public cannot tell the difference does not make them equivalent.
People who don't act on Trump's tweets can do so, but when he follows up by firing people who don't, that's something of a signal that they're meant to be taken as orders.
Point is, when you have 1) a tweet about an issue, 2) an official who says "that's not an order, we are going to wait until there's an order" followed by 3) that official being fired, it sure looks like the tweet was meant to be taken as an order.
Here is an article where Esper explains why he fired Spenser to Pentagon officials. https://townhall.com/tipsheet/cortneyobrien/2019/11/25/esper...
And to go back to your original comment, please define "normal" people, e.g. your saying normal people don't use it; I'm not going to put more energy into breaking down your statements further.
"you need to log in and follow the on-screen prompts before Dec. 11, 2019, otherwise your account will be removed from Twitter."
So they are sending the email to all inactive accounts, and leaving it up to the owner to perform an action if they want to continue to using it. Apart from the rather short timeframe, it seems like a good way to handle it.
But like Niemöller's prose, which are next?
I am hoping they are using sensible scoring as I suggested.
Otherwise, if they will keep sending these emails every 6 months, what happens if you miss one of these emails for an account that actually matters. Easily done even if you are not dead, ill, travelling.
Does anybody know what’s going to happen to the names? Are they going to become available to register on 11th Dec? I hope somebody isn’t waiting there with a dictionary to squat them all...
I’ve even got a few reminders in my calendar to check on the username availability on the 11th and 12th. Really hoping it’s a full on user delete rather than just making them inactive
There's zero downside to releasing those, since their old tweets are already gone.
Seems like you can contact support to get it active again without having to give out your phone, but I understand if you'd rather not use the platform at all.
Does anyone know of a service that can be made to automatically pick up a Twitter name as it becomes available?
1. I actually think services should store less about people. It's good that stuff gets removed from parts of the internet.
2. I fully understand the idea of archiving a part of history. But in a way, I treat the websites more like a shopping window and less like articles and artifacts of time: They will be rearranged, stuff is removed, new stuff is added. Nobody would argue that redecorating a shopping window somehow destroys culture or history. If that is important to someone: go ahead and take pictures of store fronts. Make an archive if you want. But don't expect the store owner to keep an accurate history of their shopping window.
After all, most websites are actually the fronts of shops that are open 24/7.
- For some, Twitter is a chat and chats usually are meant to be short-term with an expiration date.
- Twitter is a store front, because it is used to promote services or products and only the stuff that got posted recently is relevant. Furthermore, some people auto-delete their older Tweets with tools for various reasons.
I think it makes sense to archive Tweets of public figures, especially politicans to hold them accountable in a way or just for historic purposes. This can, should and is done by third party services. But this isn't the only way to see it.
While i wouldn't, the libraries do throw books away which aren't being borrowed.
A few years later I Had conversation at another job with coworkers and told them how easy it was to fake followers with $40. Sure enough I found a site that promised a certain amount of followers for $40. I paid the $40 and went from a couple dozen followers to 4,000 over the course of a few days. I think for an extra $60 I could have them retweet something for me as well. At that point I knew my suspicions were correct and knew I made the right choice to leave.
Facebook at least had ad revenue. Twitter really couldn’t figure out how to sell ads.
The concern was to me, fake accounts and fake retweets/followers creating fake user growth. That’s purely my perspective and likely not how the company saw it. I wasn’t comfortable investing my time into a place that gave me that feeling.
There was a HN thread about an open source Twitter implemented in Haskell with the full stack in one page (it's called something specific) and that made me think that maybe decentrialisation is really just having decentrialised habits.
If you can figure out storage, the rest is all just done on the client side. It would kind of be like a exodus back to 1997, when everyone just slapped together some HTML and had a web page (I think; back then I was playing SC2 and didn't know what HTML was).
I thought of this example yesterday: Often people lament something like "the master craftsmen are all old, what would happen in the next generation". But I think the next generation is busy inventing the craft independently. Much like leathercraft or book binding on Reddit. I do think people can get lazy because of YouTwitFace. But I do think that a lazy person can become very efficient and prolific precisely because of revolt against their self-imposed boredom.
It does not require a lot of people (e.g.: archive.org) to make a rather large difference. GNU/Linux and the rest are examples of that 90% viewers/lurkers, 9% interaction, 1% creators. I don't know if I am misquoting that, but maybe people should be active in choosing what they preserve. That is, you are your own 100%; there is no 90-9-1 with regards to your legacy. You have to store it yourself.
It downloads your digital life and stores it locally on a single, unified timeline, for archival and family history purposes.
Even within my lifetime, that'd have been a £10 phonecall and a postcard that might or might not arrive in a week or so. It took 20 seconds to have an immediate, searchable, chronological update on what we'd done and where we were. Incredible.
That being said, if Google Photos and WhatsApp go the way of the dodo, we're a bit screwed.
I think the reaction shows how much the internet has changed - and, to be honest - how much the tech crowd has been seduced by the idea that all data should be around forever.
Why not freeze and hide the accounts instead of deleting? I.e. don't push any tweets to them, or anything else computationally intensive. Then when they log in again, have them click a button to "catch up." Probably not as profitable as annoying a lot of surprised users who try and log in after Dec 12...
Just in time for Christmas, image wanting to look back over your deceased father tweets on the holiday only to discover Twitter black-holed them for you...
it never cease to amaze how incompetent management is at Large corporations, it seems the bigger a company gets more incompetent is management becomes
It is not Twitter’s responsibility to archive for all eternity.
At no point did I say they have a responsibility to archive them for all eternity.
Further giving people 2 weeks of notice over a heavy holiday period were most people are consumed with other activities is not "giving notice"
Further still it is just bad optics, PR is not about legal responsibility, not about technically being right, it is about how it looks to normal everyday people. Moves this like look bad to normal everyday people.
It is moronic to pull a move like this over the year end holidays. They have chosen this because they think it will fly under the radar, that they can do it while everyone is busy with other things. I have a feeling this is going to back fire on them spectacularly
Which is great because personally I think twitter is a net negative for society and its collapse will be good for humanity
"The site said it [the upcoming deletions] was because users who do not log-in were unable to agree to its updated privacy policies."
Although, to your credit, the handles will indeed become available:
"...previously unavailable usernames will start coming up for grabs after the 11 December cut-off - though Twitter said it would be a gradual process, beginning with users outside of the US."
I don't even think freeing up usernames is necessarily a bad thing, but trusting the stated motivation of big companies for their actions seems awfully naive.
Storing each tweet as one file might even make sense. But you need to pick a filesystem that supports that use case at scale, if you are twitter.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maildir is a good example of how this can make sense---at least at a small local scale.
It's gone now.
Both tweets are gone.
The "Tweets & replies" section of your profile (https://twitter.com/eggsome/with_replies
) has two tweets that seem to match your description:
I'm pretty sure that I changed my handle at some point. I'll try to remember what it was and search the internet archive.
They may have had an accidental data loss. But more likely it is data that is rarely read so not stored in a hot cache near your edge.
It seems that deleting any old data is a negative for the company. Data is the new oil, right.
FTA- "previously unavailable usernames will start coming up for grabs after the 11 December cut-off"
Amazing if Twitter is just going to release valuable namespaces worth millions all on the same day.
Yes, Twitter is going to purge a lot of accounts, the same accounts Twitter boasted about having pre IPO in order to fake growth.
I have an account. I log in but I never post. I only use it to follow some interesting accounts —that is all. I don’t contact customer service i don’t feign outrage I don’t virtue signal I don’t post memes... it’s by all means passive.
WTF, I just want to follow some accounts which disseminate useful information.
I guess it depends on what “don’t do anything” translates to in Twitterspeak.
Yes, we can't expect the for-profit companies to preserve the history. But these are so hard to preserve.
Should also have a tweet lined up, in case they catch their mistake fast. Something like 'we're nuking wales tmr'.
What happens to historically important tweets (e.g. from a government office holder) who happens to have died, 5, 10, or 50 years from now?
I logged in using this old account, and Twitter asked me to prove I was not a bot. It required I would fill a recaptcha but also that I would give them a phone number for SMS verification.
So in order to keep this old account, I have to disclose my phone number to Twitter. I'm furious.
I see it as an interesting move because it will allow Twitter to have a more "honest" number of real used account.
Moreover, for Twitter, it's a way to build stronger engagement: a lot of people will connect to unused account to avoid the risk of loosing it (even if they don't really use it, just to avoid loosing it).
So the active accounts number will not be that honest! In a way it's a kind of FUD...
And it reminds everybody that Twitter is about "live and news", not building some kind reference.
Allowing hijacking of old, valuable historical Tweets makes no sense — even if it would be nice on some level to reclaim the handles. It may not be worth it.
I don't even know what half of my tweets are about. Spammy contests apparently? But I do stand by my Scala comment. (Actually, thanks to EcmaScript 6 it makes more sense to me now.)
We might not be running out bits, but keeping those bits maintained takes effort; it doesn't happen by magic.
and I can't think of any form of identifier that guarantees uniqueness; even the stone markings on graveyards eventually weather away.
Or rather, I don't think there's a need to go to such an extent to preserve old usernames and histories. I think it'd be sufficient to let archivists at whatever data they wanted, and return the names to the churn.
Our company is pretty handy in digging up stuff but you'd be surprised how much of the web is rotting away while you're staring at it and every time that happens there is a fair chance we lose something, forever. It need not be that way.
Imagine we'd have a day-to-day account of the lives of the people from 500 years ago, and that you could home in on whatever individual from that time stuck on the web. I personally think that unless the author removes it these content farms owe it to the creators that gave them the content in the first place to at least support and store that content until copyright on the content runs out.
I do think Twitter could handle this better. One problem with your distinction between names and identifiers is that, for Twitter, they're largely the same. And, Twitter lets any user change their name AND identifier at will. The history on Twitter is already badly muddled; this doesn't change much, except for a handful of high-profile accounts that people want to keep as memorials.
Twitter, I think, is not the right venue for that. They should make these accounts available for archival, or spin them off into a separate namespace, but I don't believe it makes sense for Twitter to keep inactive accounts preserved as they are indefinitely, just because the whole twitter namespace is already in such a flux (and it's not a good venue for memorializing the deceased).
Still, thanks for clarifying and changing my mind somewhat.
I don't even get why. My name is pretty clearly male.
Indeed, your tweets die with you. I wonder about really popular personalities?
Maybe someone will make a tweet in peace site.
Also because the nazis are, unfortunately, quite active.
EDIT: And it doesn't even make any sense. It's a publishing platform. The author already agreed to anything necessary.
I know 1 guy who actually fell for a honeypot, even sent her money. Its gotta be profitable for scammers with as bad as its getting.
And actually, if anyone wants to own `@INeedToTest` (maybe a QA oriented account?) let me know :)
Has anyone been able to recover their account that was in this state?
I actually just gained access to that email and unfortunately since I only used it once years ago it was wiped.
Darn, I hope they don't wipe my account... there is no support .. premium support even as Id pay to have access and use it again.
I think that's the only reason I have an account.
> beginning with users outside of the US.
> outside of the US.
Why is Twitter discriminating against US users? Also, how do I ensure I can get that username that's been squatted and has no activity at all?
Another thing that shocks me is that ads actually pay for Twitter. How did they build such a massive company (expensive employees and outsized market cap) on ad revenue? It seems like the wrong demographics for ads to actually work and persuade people into buying. I wouldn't be surprised if Twitter becomes ground zero for the advertising bubble to burst.
The advertising bubble will burst.
I hope this never happens. It's rare that something doesn't become worse when it becomes mainstream online.
But in terms of namespace, domain-name, and instance issues, you've got pretty much all your traditional Internet concerns, with a few new twists added.
My first primary instance has gone the way of the dodo, and its domain is now parked somewhere entirely different (https://mammouth.cafe). Numerous other instances have also come and gone.
My current instance, run initially by an anonymous administrator, was transferred to a Japanese concern, who don't do much to keep anyone advised of service outages or their causes/resolution. This is an instance with 56k registered users, large by Mastodon standards.
Then there are the issues with blocking and federation, which don't immediately concern namespace, but could as blocked instances die, and potentially others occupy their namespace, or they change their identity to evade blocks.
There's been a lot of agitation over the dot-org PIR self-dealing and corruption, as that's a fairly commonly-used TLD, either directly by instances or for related resources. The whole DNS / registry system is a bit of a mess.
The fact that between the Internet and DNS there's no real allowance made for either space or time is becoming an increasing stress point. What solutions might exist isn't clear, but assumptions of the 1970s and 1980s are not being sustained 30-40 years later.
As I've noted a few times recently, a dictionary bibliographic entry typically consists of little more than name, dates, nationality, and profession. Webster's 11 Collegiate includes some 6,000 or so such entries. There are roughly 1 million times more people than that now living, and another 100 or 200x more who have ever lived.
In digital systems, there is no distinction between use and mention -- the name is the thing and the thing is the name. This is convenient in narrow scopes (time, place, scale), and ... exceedingly inconvenient over broad scopes (time, place, scale). UUIDs address the collision problem but not the convenience. Convenient shortcuts address convenience, but not uniqueness requirements.
Since meatspace identity is who you are, and other references (names, nicknames, registration numbers, etc.) are not identities but identifiers, the problems aren't as manifest. Your actual identity cannot be merged with another (though numerous related aspects and relations can be). Online, if A and B are suddenly both called "A", then they are both "A".
I think we'll be sorting this out for a while yet.