Tag Archives: experiment

Why Twitter Hides Your Tweets

A pathognomonic  sign has emerged among Twitter accounts that exchange retweets frequently: pre-archived (or hidden) tweets. The hypothesis we are going to test in this case study is the following:

Tweets disappear because Twitter (mistakenly) counts removed items (deleted tweets, unretweeted tweets etc) as items currently present in one’s timeline on an ongoing basis.

The premise is that as stated on Twitter’s respective support page Twitter displays only the most recent 3200 tweets/retweets.

It appears though that your current most recent tweet (CMRT) is seen by Twitter as buried under all the tweets you posted or retweeted after the CMRT but deleted too. We will refer to this group of posts as PORAD (Posted or Retweeted After but Deleted).

Example: If you post 1 tweet (CMRT) on a brand new account, retweet 3199 others (PORAD) on top of it and undo these 3199 retweets, only the CMRT will be left on your timeline. To Twitter though this will be your 3200th post (counting back from the most recent to the least recent), and an additional retweet/tweet (ART) on top of the CMRT published on your timeline will lead to the CMRT being counted as the 3201st post you created. As result your CMRT will be removed since it is not one of the 3200 most recent tweets/retweets you created. In other words, Twitter sees your most recent 3200 items as consisting of 3199 retweets (PORAD) and the ART even though you deleted the PORAD.

To test this theory we have created a brand new account, @TestHiddenTweet. Each tweet posted from this account will contain an ordinal number which reflects the absolute order in which it was posted, taking into account retweets as well. Thus,

  • if 10 tweets are retweeted on top of “tweet 1“, the next tweet posted will be called “tweet 12“.
  • if another 17 tweets are retweeted on top of “tweet 12“, the tweet posted right after those 17 retweets will be called “tweet 30
  • and so on until we reach “tweet 3200

After posting tweet 3200 we will activate spamcleaner to clean all retweets on the account’s timeline which in the end should contain only the counted tweets (the order assigned to them by Twitter on an ongoing basis). Therefore, if we posted only tweet 1, tweet 12 and tweet 3200 and the rest were retweets, after removing all retweets only 3 tweets should be visible on the account’s timeline:

  1. tweet 3200
  2. tweet 12
  3. tweet 1

If our hypothesis is correct, then the 3201st tweet or retweet we post on top of these 3 tweets should cause tweet 1 to disappear leaving only the following 3 tweets on the timeline:

  1. tweet 3201/RT 3201
  2. tweet 3200
  3. tweet 12

And finally, if we delete tweet 3201 or undo RT3201 only 2 tweets should be left on user’s timeline:

  1. tweet 3200
  2. tweet 12

If our hypothesis is proven true then we will be able to easily demonstrate why tweets reappear and disappear. For any questions or suggestions please use the comment section below.

Beware that the current hypothesis refers to how Twitter elaborates tweets on an ongoing basis. Current evidence suggests that on a weekly basis twitter synchronizes with accounts to ensure there actually are 3200 items on everyone’s timeline.  This weekly synchronization brings tweets hidden via the (possible) above mentioned mechanism back on users’ timelines.

Implications for Accounts Using Tweetdeck Teams

If a given account @myparody is

  • added to multiple tweetdeck teams;
  • updated once every 24h
  • and receives over or close to 3200 RTs in 24h (130RTs/h) from the teams it is added to;

Then the most recent tweet will be archived (possibly) via the above mentioned mechanism.