Earlier this year, when Twitter changed their terms and conditions, I resolved to spend more time on Mastodon, the decentralised social network. In particular, I’ve been hanging out at social.coop, which I co-own with the other users of the instance.
Today, I deleted all 77.5k of my tweets using Cardigan, an open source tool named after the Swedish band The Cardigans (and their 90s hit ‘Erase/Rewind’):
Yes, I said it’s fine before
But I don’t think so no more
I said it’s fine before
I’ve changed my mind, I take it back
Erase and rewind
‘Cause I’ve been changing my mind
Why delete all my tweets? Because I’m sick of feeling like a slow-boiled frog. Twitter have updated their terms and conditions again, and now this service that used to be on the side of liberty is becoming a tool for the oppressor, the data miner, the quick-buck-making venture capitalist.
I’m out. I’ll continue posting links to my work, but that’s it. Consider it an alternative to my RSS feeds.
Deleting my tweets was a pretty simple process: I simply downloaded my Twitter archive and then upload it into Cardigan. This enabled me to delete all my tweets, not just the last 3,200.
The upside of doing this is that I could take my Twitter archive and upload it to a subdomain under my control, in this case twitter.dougbelshaw.com. All of my tweets are preserved in a really nicely-searchable way. Kudos to Twitter for making that so easy.
In addition, I realised that deleting my Twitter ‘likes’ (I’ll always call them ‘favourites’) was probably a good idea — all 31.4k of them. They’re not much use to me, but they can be data mined in some pretty scary ways, if Facebook is anything to go by.
I used Fav Cleaner (note: this service auto-tweets once on your behalf) to delete my Twitter likes/favourites. It’s limited to deleting 3,204 at a time, so I’ve left it running on a pinned tab and am returning to it periodically to set it off again. I may need to use something like Unfav.me as well.
To finally do this feels quite liberating. As a consultant, I often point out to clients when they’re exhibiting tendencies towards the sunk cost fallacy. In this case, I was showing signs myself! Just because using Twitter has been of (huge) value for me in the past, doesn’t mean it will be, or in the same way, in future.
Postscript: at the time of writing, Twitter’s still showing me as having tweeted a grand total of 67 tweets. However, it seems my timeline actually nly features one tweet; something I retweeted back in 2016 — and can’t seem to un-retweet. I think it’s oddly fitting:
Just because I have a parochial viewpoint and no internal data doesn’t mean I don’t have a strong opinion on Twitter’s business strategy.
— #JeSuisVerrit (@ProfJeffJarviss) February 6, 2016