Recovering and Finding Deleted Tweets Isn’t Impossible, But Twitter isn’t Making it Easy Either

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Let’s get one thing clear: you won’t be able to find deleted tweets from a deleted account, not unless you use a third-party app or access an internet archive of Twitter.

That’s just how it is. To protect your privacy and to maintain Twitter’s focus on recording “moments” rather than serving as a database for everything that goes on in your day, the microblogging site makes sure that there’s no way for you to access someone else’s deleted tweet.

But what about your own deleted tweet? Now that’s another story.

Unbeknownst to most Twitter users (except for the real, hardcore, coding types out there), there are actually a couple of ways to retrieve deleted tweets from your own account. This can be done either through the native Twitter app or through a third-party app.

Of course, relying on third-party apps to find deleted Tweets can be risky – what with the amount of sensitive information you’ll be giving them access to. But with a trusted app by your side, you won’t have to worry about some weird troll farm in some backwater country stealing your login info.

How to Find Deleted Tweets

To save you from confusion (and possible phishing), we’ve compiled a list of some of the most effective ways to recover or view deleted tweets:

Use Twitter’s Native Advanced Search

As with most pieces of digital tech, using the native app for all your needs, including retrieving info, is by far the safest. To access or view deleted tweets from your account using the native Twitter Advanced Search:

  1. Go to your Twitter’s Advanced Search page
  2. Go to the “People” Subheading
  3. Enter your username (without the @ symbol) under the “From These Accounts” field
  4. Under “Dates”, input your start and end date search parameters
  5. Click “Search”, and Twitter will display all the Tweets from the time period you chose.

Alternatively, you can also search for your tweets keywords under the “Words” subheading. Under the “Words” Subheading, you’ll be given three options:

  • All of These Words (will only display tweets that match your search parameters),
  • This Exact Phrase (will only display tweets that have the same exact word and word placement as your search),
  • Any of These Words (will display tweets that have at least one of the words in your search).

Sure, this method has its limitations, but if you’re one of those tinfoil-hat-wearing paranoid types that don’t want to share personal info to third-party apps, then using Twitter’s native Advanced Search Feature is your best bet.

Request for a Copy of Your Twitter Archive

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Retrieved from Pixabay

This is a more complete way of seeing all the tweets you ever posted since the dawn of your account. But more than just finding or recovering deleted tweets, having an updated hard copy of your social media accounts is a responsible thing to do (not to mention a good way to recover your account if it ever gets compromised).

To request a copy of your Twitter archive:

  1. Go to your Account Settings tab in your Twitter account
  2. Go to “Content”
  3. From there, you’ll see a button that says “Request Your Archive.” Depending on the volume of data that Twitter needs to compile, your copy will arrive within minutes, hours, or even days.
  4. When your viewable archive is ready, you’ll be sent a push notification that will lead you back to your Twitter accounts page.
  5. From here, click the “Download Archive” button.

Just a reminder before doing this to make sure that the email linked to your Twitter account is verified and updated. Twitter usually sends a downloadable file to your email address as a backup.

When you request a copy of your Twitter archive, you’ll be sent a .zip file that contains an index.html file that allows you to browse your archive from your web browser, and a .csv file that can be opened using your favorite spreadsheet program.

Find Deleted Tweets Using the WayBack Machine

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Granted, those two methods might not show you all your deleted Tweets; there’s a lot of data to compile, and the Twitter servers might not have the data you need. So what if you download your archive and use the advanced search and are still unable to find the tweet you’re looking for?

You might have to try your luck with a time machine. Specifically, an internet time machine!

Although not exactly the DeLorean, the WayBack Machine is the next best thing to a functioning flux capacitor. Founded by the nonprofit organization Internet Archive, the WayBack Machine is a digital archive that scours the internet and takes screenshots of certain pages for posterity.

Notice that we said ‘screenshot’: you can’t actually access full tweets, and the WayBack Machine takes random screenshots at random times, but it’s the closest you can get to see a deleted tweet from a deleted account. But again, no reassurances.

To use the WayBack Machine:

  1. Access the WayBack Machine and type the full URL of the Twitter page you want to see. Input this in the search bar and click “Browse History”.
  2. If the WayBack Machine has crawled this page before, it will show you a screenshot of that page. This is organized by year and day.
  3. Choose the Year and Day of the deleted tweet and try to find it there.

Remember, the WayBack Machine only takes screenshots, so you won’t be able to scroll through the page like you normally would. It also won’t take screenshots constantly, so if a tweet was deleted before the archive could crawl the page, you won’t be able to find that deleted tweet.

Tweet Responsibly

responsible tweeting
Some people who find deleted tweets may want to use the results to discredit others. But if you tweet with care, you won’t have to worry about old posts haunting you in the future. Photo by Ravi Sharma on Unsplash

Finding deleted tweets is one of the most popular ways to discredit someone for something they said years ago. I mean, sure, you could also use it to find a tweet you found funny. But let’s be honest: in the modern world, finding a copy of a deleted tweet saying some awful things said by a celebrity or politician is like finding a diamond in a gold mine.

Donald Trump’s deleted tweets, for example, can be a source of humor and horror. They can be valuable beyond measure or could be just inane rants of a dull-witted mind.

Whereas Trump’s shocking or inane tweets barely affected the former POTUS, other celebs have lost jobs because of past tweets.

Writer and director James Gunn was fired from doing “Guardians of the Galaxy V.3” over a deleted tweet that resurfaced. It was dug up by conservatives, according to a report. The post reportedly went: “I like it when little boys touch me in my silly place. Shhh!”

Iggy Azalea dropped out of a Pride event after pressure from LGBTQ groups cited her past tweets. One of which allegedly read: “This Asian lady on the plane tried to act like she didn’t understand me I told her a** bi*ch u gone know English today cause that’s my seat!”

And then there was Kevin Hart. The comedian was slated to do the Oscars in 2019 but backed out after a 2011 tweet resurfaced.

What you post today could have lasting impact tomorrow. So tweet responsibly. Think about what you’re going to post before you send it out for the world to read, interpret and dig up when the time is right. If you have firm beliefs about some controversial issue, consider how it will affect others. If you’re new to the platform, learn about Twitter first.

If you still manage to tweet something that could haunt you in the future, know that Twitter made it really difficult for people to find deleted tweets, especially from deleted twitter accounts. And although Advanced Search and Archive requests might work to see your own deleted tweets, you won’t be able to view tweets from archived or deleted accounts. The WayBack Machine takes screenshots, but it’s random at best, and might not get you the results you’re looking for.

And if you still can’t find it, just hope someone on Reddit has receipts.


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