If you came of age with the internet, chances are some adult in your life wasted no opportunity to remind you to be careful with what you do online, noting that anything you post can be seen forever. And even if you argued back, “but I can delete it” or “my profile is private,” please know that adult was right. The joke is on you. Nothing is private on the internet. Nothing can be deleted. (I’m becoming my own mother before my eyes here but you get the point.)
Security researcher Karan Saini told TechCrunch that while combing through a Twitter data archive he found the platform stores your DMs, even if you’ve deleted them. “Twitter retains direct messages for years, including messages you and others have deleted, but also data sent to and from accounts that have been deactivated and suspended,” TechCrunch reports. Twitter is supposed to fully remove account data 30 days after an account is deleted, but TechCrunch found it was able to access DMs from previous years.
A Twitter spokesperson said the company is looking into the issue. In 2018, Select All discovered, after looking through a similar archive of Facebook data, that the platform had secretly saved every video users recorded. Even videos those users never posted. Facebook later apologized and blamed the issue on a “bug” and promised to delete the videos. It offered no way for users to confirm that deleting actually happened.