The blink-and-you'll-miss-it speed at which social media moves means you're unlikely to remember a tweet you sent in the last 48 hours, let alone one you sent two years ago. But if your account is public, it's time to dig up the time capsule and start sorting through, or, rather, deleting those messages you've already wiped from your memory.
Events in the last few weeks have made it clear that this approach is not extreme. Rather, it's an important protective measure against trolls who are using old tweets as weapons against the people they view as their enemies. In late July, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was fired by Disney for inappropriate jokes he made on Twitter 10 years prior. The tweets that led to Gunn's swift dismissal were dug up and spread by alt-right personality and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich. The same approach has been used to target journalists.
Regardless of whether you consider yourself a potential target of internet trolls or not, these situations emphasise a couple of important things. First, it's difficult to convey tone on Twitter, so something intended as a joke or satire may not be read as a joke by others, especially when taken out of context. Second, you may no longer stand by something you wrote a decade ago. And, since background checks by employers now include a thorough review of your social media accounts in addition to your criminal background report, five to 10 misinterpreted or misguided words could prove costly. That's not to mention the harassment you could face online if you do become a target.
While Twitter does not operate on the same 24-hour lifecycle as Snapchat and Instagram Stories, there's no reason you can't — and shouldn't — approach it in a similar fashion.
First, go to Settings > Your Twitter data > Request data. This will allow you to save all of the old tweets you posted before removing them. Next, instead of going through each individual tweet and deleting them one-by-one (there is no mass delete option on Twitter), head to a third-party service, TweetDelete, and sign in with your Twitter credentials.
TweetDelete can delete up to 3,200 tweets at a time. You specify the time frame, and can set the service to delete tweets that are more than one week, two weeks, one month, two months, three months, six months, or one year old. Once activated, it will continue to automatically check and delete tweets from your account. You can always return to the site to turn it off.
Of course, you can also take a different route and set your account to private, but this doesn't prevent your current followers from taking screenshots and sharing your tweets that way.