From PR 2.0

Over the years, Twitter search was plagued by an unbelievable flaw. Deleted tweets remained in Twitter’s search index and thus, would appear in the search results regardless of the conscious act of manually removing the tweets from your personal stream. Believe it or not, this problem remained constant much to the dismay of many power users. To my pleasant surprise, Twitter has finally rectified this problem and has officially removed deleted tweets from its index.

Now that Google and Bing are channeling Twitter search results, it’s widely suspected that Twitter had no choice but to remedy this enduring problem. Imagine if your deleted tweets ranked among the top results in Google or Bing? Obviously privacy is a primary concern and this is a step in the right direction. However, privacy on the social Web is an oxymoron of sorts. Once a Tweet is published for example, it is indexed by many other third-party services, networks and applications. And, even if you delete a Tweet, it still may reside somewhere else. For example, if you stream your Tweets to Facebook and Tumblr, obviously you’d have to delete the updates across multiple platforms. But, the other challenge is that there are several other services that pull tweets where they may also reside once deleted.

Either way, to officially have deleted tweets removed from search results is a welcome update that is way overdue, but valued nonetheless.

Oh, and make sure to check out Collecta for real-time search results…it not only indexes the live twitter feed, but also the social web to reveal activity around keywords as they appear online. (Note: I’m a tech adviser to the team.)

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About the Author:

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture. His current book, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and measure success in the social web.

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    Rebecca Leaman27 October 2009 2:35 pm

    I’m not quite sure how I feel about this, Brian.

    On the one hand, there are esoteric arguments to be made about how the removal of delted tweets might affect transparency – a kind of revisionist tweeting, as it were, that could leave those on the other half of the conversation in a compromised postion, or at the very least looking like they’re talking to themselves!

    On the other hand, there’s human nature. Most of us have (at least once) spilled a tweet that was intended to be a DM, or tweeted in haste and had second thoughts. So yes, having deleted tweets removed from Twitter search would be comforting, in a way.

    But there’s the danger – a false sense of security.

    Sure, someone can skip about deleting their ill-advised tweets from Facebook and wherever else it’s been cross-posted, but what about all the other third-party services? And the retweets that go into search? And all the RSS feeds scampering over the web, widgetized on blogs and captured by visiting SE bots from there, and so on and so forth…

    Once our words are turned loose online, there’s no guarantee that they can be recalled – no matter what Twitter chooses to do to accomodate with its internal Search. You know that – no doubt the bulk of your readers know that and understand the implications – but what proportion of the millions of non-techy social media users are fully aware of how widely their status updates can travel, and how long they can endure?

    Just think how many people are under the mistaken impression that setting a Twitter account to “protect updates” should suddenly pull all their pre-existing tweets from the search engine indices and make them private, retrospectively! Can you imagine the misunderstandings, the outrage, the indignant furor of naive Twitter users who, deleting a tweet and finding it gone from Twitter search, suddenly find it frozen in time in the sidebar of a Twitter pal’s blog?

    I suppose that one solution could be a kind of “grace period” – where, say, there’s a delay of n seconds or minutes in which you can change your mind about a tweet, before the search engines sweep in to index it…
    Or would that create more problems than it would solve?