Deleted tweets are reappearing for some Twitter users

Another day, another strange Twitter problem.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
Twitter logo on phone
Photo illustration by Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Say you deleted some Twitter messages. Perhaps, you just wanted to get rid of some blunders. Maybe, you tweeted some things you regretted, or you needed to erase some tweets that would land you in a lot of trouble with your boss. Well, you'd better check your Twitter feed. Those messages you thought were long gone may have reappeared.

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I noticed the problem when Richard "Dick" Morrell, open-source developer, security expert, and former CTO/Chairman of SmoothWall, the global internet security powerhouse, said on Mastodon

Last November, I deleted all my Tweets. Every single one. I then ran Redact and deleted all my likes, my media, and retweets. 38k tweets gone. … Woke up today to find 34k of them restored by Twitter, who presumably brought a server farm back up.

He was not amused. 

And, he wasn't the only one. Morrell reported that over 400 people had told him so far that they, too, had seen their deleted messages restored. He estimated that over a million previously deleted Tweets with just the people in his circles have reappeared. 

Specifically, people report they're seeing deleted tweets from November 2022 and earlier reappearing. Morell speculated, "I am pretty sure they've restored cold storage because all the restored tweets have date-time characteristics."

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A former Twitter Site Reliability Engineer, going by the online name of "mx alex tax1a," who worked on the core infrastructure provisioning automation team, suggested, "This sounds a lot like they moved a bunch of servers between datacenters and didn't properly adjust the topology before reinserting them into the network, leading to stale data becoming revived."

They added: 

The way you're SUPPOSED to do this is, the storage people take it out of topology with their tools, they wipe the machine with ours, the machine is moved, and then reinstalled as if it were a brand new machine in the new data center, and only *then* reinserted into the topology.

The return of once deleted messages, they continued, "is what we'd expect if they didn't do that."

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As for Twitter, when asked, the company replied with a poop emoji. Which, believe it or not, is now Elon Musk's preferred response to press questions

Twitter Press Poop Emoji

Morrell takes it much more seriously. "This shows Twitter has no handle at all on data privacy globally. It is in breach of GDPR on a global scale without a defense."

Bene, a researcher working on RNA and infection at the Humboldt University Berlin, summed it up all nicely on his Mastodon feed: "Twitter is basically Hotel California now. You can check out anytime you like, but your tweets may never leave!"

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