Bulletins

Twitter's latest change shows how link rot is ruining the internet

Twitter will now leave a blank box where deleted tweets were embedded on websites.

The Twitter​ logo in black on a yellow background.
Twitter is breaking embedded tweets.
Image: Twitter

Twitter giveth, and Twitter taketh away. The company is testing an edit button, but it's also wiping out embedded tweets if they've been deleted. The clear answer: Screenshot everything.


Now, if a third-party website embeds a tweet that ends up getting deleted after it's shared, users will see a blank box with grey lines and a button that says "explore what's happening on Twitter." Before today, the original unformatted text would show up.

The change was first detailed by Twitter user Kevin Marks last week, and Twitter Senior Product Manager Eleanor Harding later responded that the change was to "better respect when people have chosen to delete their tweets." The tweets of users who have had their accounts suspended also no longer show up when embedded.

Harding said that Twitter will soon release "better messaging that explains why the content is no longer available." Twitter did not immediately respond to request for comment from Protocol. The change creates a problem for websites, including news outlets, that rely on embedded tweets to provide context for stories. It also makes it possible for public figures to erase newsworthy statements as if they never happened.

The change follows a week of wild news from Twitter. After joking that it was working on a long-awaited edit button on April Fools' Day, the company announced Tuesday that it actually had plans for an edit button in the works. "People want to be able to fix (sometimes embarrassing) mistakes, typos and hot takes in the moment," tweeted Jay Sullivan, Twitter's head of Consumer Product. Twitter also welcomed Elon Musk to its board of directors this week, following his purchase of more than 9% of the company — a decision which may signal big upcoming changes to the way the platform works. Musk is a self-described "free speech absolutist" who wants Twitter to open-source its algorithm.

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