Twitter removes embeds of deleted tweets from the web – TechCrunch

The Edit Tweet button isn’t the only new feature from Twitter that can rewrite history. The company has apparently changed the way it handles embedded tweets that have been subsequently deleted and punctured webpages on the internet.

Previously, a deleted tweet embedded in a webpage still displayed the text content of a tweet. Now that text is gone and just shows an empty field. Twitter is changing webpages with deleted embedded tweets by hiding the text with javascript — a choice that has many developers and open-web advocates up in arms.

In a blog post, IndieWeb developer and former Google Developer Advocate Kevin Marks criticized Twitter’s change, likening it to “tampering with public records.” Marks cites former President Trump’s since-deleted tweets as an example of public interest content that should remain available, adding that Twitter’s new approach to deleted embedded tweets is “troubling”.

in one tweet Eleanor Harding, a senior product manager at Twitter, responded to Marks’ concerns that the change was intended by Twitter to “better respect when people have chosen to delete their tweets.” Harding said the deleted tweet embeds would soon display a message instead of just leaving a completely blank space, which is what’s happening right now.

Marks isn’t the only one raising concerns that the ahistorical approach to old tweets will hurt the internet.

“Twitter does more than just protect the privacy of people who delete their tweets: they use javascript to retrospectively hide the plaintext quoted in their embeds, even though it’s still present in the HTML,” said Andy Baio, who created the virtual event platform Skittish and was previously the CTO of Kickstarter. “This is a huge problem for the preservation of historical records.”

“… Anyone writing on the web could have used a screenshot of a tweet or simply quoted the text, but had the assurance that if an embedded tweet is deleted, the plain text still remains.” Twitter broke that pact by changing that behavior.”

Twitter announced Tuesday that it would soon be testing editable tweets through Twitter Blue, its premium subscription service. Between the move to embedded tweets and this controversial news, the company seems to be moving toward a philosophy that puts its users’ intentions first, far above any concerns about archiving historical content. However, critics of the feature argue that giving users the ability to edit their tweets after the fact could exacerbate some of Twitter’s most persistent platform problems, including harassment and misinformation.

Much like the public reception of the once-mythological Edit-Tweet button, people will likely be divided on whether Twitter’s erasing of portions of the internet’s collective memory is a good move or an ominous step in the wrong direction. There’s a natural tension between the ethos of the “right to be forgotten” movement, which aims to empower people to have certain types of content about them deleted from the internet, and the researchers, developers, and other advocates of open information, who see the web as a living document – one that is constantly updated but never directly modified.

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