Goodbye, Twitter

6 minute read Published: 2022-11-12

I joined Twitter in 2008. It allowed me to connect to the InfoSec community in a way I couldn't in person at the time. I had a lot of positive experiences, and it opened a few doors for me professionally. Today, after reading about more senior folks resigning and rumors that Musk is searching for ways to monetize user data in unethical ways, it's time to say good-bye.

I am now happily reliving the best experiences of early Twitter on the hachyderm.io Mastodon instance.

If you're considering leaving Twitter, there's a few things you might want to do to ensure your data isn't used in whatever the off-the-rails cry-baby billionaire dreams up next.

Download Your Archive

You might want to keep a copy of your Twitter data before you nuke it. This step can take a few hours or days to process, so start here.

  1. Login to Twitter
  2. Click on "More"
  3. Click on "Settings and Support"
  4. Click on "Settings and Privacy"
  5. Under "Your Account" select "Download archive of your data"
  6. Follow the verification process
  7. Click on "Request archive"

At this point, your request will be queued to process. It could take a few days to get your data.

Preparing for the Migration

If you're migrating to Mastodon, you'll want to give your followers a few days or weeks of notice. You'll need to choose an instance and get up and running there. I highly recommend hachyderm.io as the community there is a great cross section of folks from all walks of life who universally agree to be kind to one another. There's even a great welcome guide to cover getting used to Mastodon and the hachyderm community.

Once you select your Mastodon instance, you'll want to notify your twitter followers.

  1. Set your "display name" on Twitter to your Mastodon handle on your Twitter profile so the various tools will be able to find you. Mine is @[email protected].
  2. Set your account to private by selecting "Protect my tweets" in "Your account" > "Account Information" > "Protect Tweets"
  3. Tweet that you're moving to Mastodon, and pin that tweet to your profile.

While you're waiting for your archive download, poke around in the Twitter settings for privacy, advertising, and location tracking and disable all that crap. For instance, under "Privacy and safety" you might want to disable everything in "Discoverability" so you won't be discovered in searches anymore.

Your Archive is Ready

Download the archive and check it out. It's important to note that some of the media in the archive may not be provided locally. There are a number of tools on GitHub for downloading the remote content. I did not use these, so I don't have any recommendations. If you are concerned about maintaining the images and videos in your archive, you might need to find one of those tools and run them before deleting your account and tweets.

Update: @timhutton created a tool to make your archive better.

Ready to Delete

It's not an easy decision. I understand that. If you're going to do it, you might as well do it right. If you're not in Brazil, the EU, the UK, or California, you probably won't be able to delete your account. You'll have to rely on a third party service to get rid of as much of your data as you can.

TweetDeleter

I chose to use TweetDeleter, but there are other options. Here's a trick: if you link TweetDeleter to your account, but don't purchase anything, after a few days they will send you an email with a 20% off deal. You'll need to do this before you delete your Twitter account.

  1. Link TweetDeleter to your account
  2. Check out the UI, but wait a few days
  3. Wait for the discount code email
  4. Redeem it, choose "Monthly Billing"
  5. Select "Unlimited" Plan, it should cost $9.99 for the monthly option
  6. Delete all tweets

It might take a while to delete all your tweets, so be patient. After an hour or two, you should be able to refresh your twitter profile and see no tweets.

Go back to TweetDeleter and into Account settings and "Cancel Subscription". You must do this before you delete your account or else you'll lose access to you TweetDeleter account and potentially wind up with a recurring bill.

Deactivating Your Twitter Account

It's sad, I know. But it's time to let go.

Here's the most paranoid way to "delete" your account.

  1. Change your Twitter username, it doesn't matter what you change it to.
  2. Navigate to "Your account" > "Deactivate account"
  3. Create a new Twitter account with your old username, and lock it down:
    • Set your display name to your Mastodon handle
    • Set "Protect my tweets"
    • Disable all discoverability options
    • Unfollow the one user you had to follow to create the account
    • Disable all the location tracking
    • Disable all the advertising customizations

OK, so, if you're giving up Twitter, why rename/create the blank account? It's just a placeholder to your account name so internet weirdos don't try to impersonate you as Twitter burns to the ground. Yes, it's paranoid, but I think it's a good idea, especially if you gave a lot of conference talks and there's videos of you with your slides referencing you on Twitter. It will help people find you, at least while Twitter is still a thing.

Deleting You Twitter Account

If you're in Brazil, the EU, the UK, or California, you live somewhere with reasonable privacy laws which allow you to request that your data be removed from the company's servers. If they fail to do so, then you can notify the relevant government body and they will levy fines against Twitter until they comply.

Unfortunately, this process will take a little while to complete, which is why we went through all the rest of this pain.

  1. Head over to yourdigitalrights.org
  2. Fill out your name
  3. Select the relevant privacy law from the drop down
  4. Under additional identifying information list:
    • The "renamed" old Twitter handle
    • Any email addresses associated with that account
    • Any phone numbers associated with that account
  5. Click the down arrow on "Review and Send" and "Copy Text to Clipboard"
  6. Paste into your email client
  7. Send the email

This starts the process. Most likely, they will need to verify your identity and place of residence to ensure they are authorized to delete your information. I am on this step of the process and expect it to take a week or two to complete. I will update this article as I get more information.


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