Hints for Leaving Twitter

(Now's a good time)

So, you’ve had enough of Elon Musk’s quest to become the Caligula of social media, and you want to leave Twitter behind? Here are some tips.

  1. If you want hints on setup, I wrote an article about that, and there are guides from Gizmodo, TechCrunch, WIRED, and many other publications.

  2. If you want a copy of your old Tweets, request it now. When I left, it took about a day to get my archive. Last time there was a mass exodus, people reported it took a week to get their archives. I expect the feature will mysteriously break any day now, as soon as Elon realizes he might be able to keep some people on the site by holding their data hostage.

  3. Once you’ve got your archive, note that it doesn’t include the images. There’s a script to download them, and it will also convert your tweets to Markdown if you like.

  4. If you want to delete your Twitter history, there aren’t any 100% functional free options. (Believe me, I tried a bunch.) The fundamental problem is that Twitter’s API limits the ability to fetch your Tweet history to the most recent 3,200 posts, even though you can delete any Tweet of yours if you know its URL. The services that can delete the lot require that you upload your Tweet archive, so that they can find out the URLs. They also want money, but I was happy to pay a few bucks to stick it to Elon. One is TweetDeleter; the one I used and can vouch for is TweetDelete. If you want to delete your direct messages, an option that works (albeit slowly) is Semiphemeral.

  5. If you want to delete your Twitter history, start doing that now, or as soon as you get your archive. As with the “export my archive” option, I expect the applications offering mass deletion will be blocked, and perhaps even the entire delete API will be disabled, as soon as Elon works out what’s going on.

  6. Don’t delete your Twitter account outright. That will (a) potentially free up good handles for reuse, adding value to Twitter; and (b) potentially allow people to use your old handle to impersonate you.

  7. If you used Twitter to log into any other web sites – GitHub, Discourse, whatever – you’ll want to go to those web sites and disable the Twitter integration so that it doesn’t provide a back door to your accounts there. (Also, in the future I suggest using a password manager rather than logging into web sites via social media accounts.)

  8. If you were on Twitter for professional reasons, you might want to see if there’s a Mastodon instance for people of your profession. Some examples:

  9. If you want to find people you knew on Twitter, try Debirdify.

  10. You can try posting your Mastodon address in your Twitter bio, but it appears that Twitter has now banned all posting of links to Mastodon servers. At the moment, I’m told you can still post a link to Linktree and list your Mastodon address there, but I expect that will get blocked soon as well. If you do try to post your Mastodon address, remember that it has two parts, and two @ symbols, e.g. @johnsmith@myserver.social.

  11. One thing that will work: Change your Twitter display name to your Mastodon handle (with both @ symbols). Even if Twitter bans you, the display name remains visible to people.

  12. When you vent on Mastodon about how awful Twitter and Elon are, please be considerate and tag your posts with #twitter, #ElonMusk and any other appropriate hashtags. A lot of people are sick of hearing about him, and tagging helps them filter it out of their feeds.

  13. Mastodon will appear quiet until you (a) post some stuff and (b) follow some people. Once you do those things, click Explore in the right column and you’ll see what’s trending; then click the For you tab and you’ll see suggestions for people you might want to follow.

  14. Mastodon is going to be a bit flaky right now, because if you’re thinking of leaving Twitter for the Fediverse, half a million other people are as well. Expect glitches, images being slow to load or failing, and so on. I’ve watched three mass migrations now, it generally settles down after 3-4 days.

  15. On that note, if you continue using Mastodon, please consider donating to your server maintainer on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be $8 and you probably won’t get a blue checkmark, but it’ll help them keep the server running.

  16. If you want to keep posting on Twitter, I suggest that you don’t set up a bot or other service to automatically cross-post the same content to Mastodon. Mastodon users hate that. You should probably carefully consider whether you want to continue giving Twitter content at all; even just going back to view the site helps Elon by boosting page hits and ad impressions.

  17. Once you set up a Mastodon account, people will likely follow it, and stop following you on Twitter. So if you care about engagement, it’s not a great idea to set up a Mastodon account and then not actually use it.