For years, confusion has clouded what Twitter’s in-built tools do when we try to delete our direct messages. Do these conversations disappear completely or just from our personal inbox?
In theory, there are two ways to expunge the messages you have sent – deleting whole conversations, or erasing individual posts. But according to Twitter, neither of these options actually deletes your messages. If you opt to delete entire chats, Twitter acknowledges that they will be gone from your inbox, yet accessible to the person you were messaging. Similarly, if you choose to delete a single message, the people you sent it to can still see it. On their Help Center page, Twitter states that messages and conversations are removed “from your account only” – a phrase which suggests that the social media giant keeps backups on their servers.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe offers privacy and data protection rights that allow users to request the deletion of their data. Shockingly though, it appears as if Twitter is refusing detailed requests to delete direct messages and instead pointing people towards general advice which does not actively clarify whether the platform stores deleted DMs on its servers. Consequently, data regulators in Europe are taking steps to address this issue.