An App that Allows You to Set Up Your Tweets to Delete

5 years ago

People delete their tweets all the time, so Twitter is hardly a bastion of permanence.  But what if you could schedule your tweets to disappear?  Post them knowing that no one would be able to find them a set amount of time later?  A former Twitter engineer has created an app that does just that: allows you to post tweets that will disappear based on a hashtag.

By placing the amount of time at the end of the tweet -- for example, #10m -- your tweet will disappear from everyone's stream 10 minutes after posting.

Image: Mike Towber via Flickr

Like any invention, it could be used for good or evil, even though it's currently being touted as helpful for time sensitive announcements.  Tweet out a hurricane warning that will expire at a certain hour?  This app will keep people from erroneously spreading the news via retweets and confusing people after the danger has passed.  You could tweet where you are, meeting up with friends, and have it expire around the time when you're going home so people don't show up when you won't be there.

Except that isn't how I see it being used.

I could see people using it for very public bullying that will leave no record.  Say something awful about another person, have it float in the ether for a few minutes, and then without needing to be near a computer, have it delete so parents trying to find it later will be stumped, wondering if it existed at all.

Or incite an argument on Twitter with a flippant remark during the next political debates and have it disappear so people can't refer back to the original tweet or have employers see a record of your verbal shitstorms.

Forgive me if I am focusing more on the negative side of the app which makes it even easier to get rid of your words.  I just feel that giving people the option for even less circumspection is a recipe for disaster.

The tweets will clearly be marked with an expiration time in the hashtag, so people can choose to ignore those tweets, knowing that they won't be around in the future.  Or they can take a screenshot as needed if they want proof down the road.

What do you think of this app and the ability to delete tweets?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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