People say some pretty crazy stuff on the bird app. Hilariously, tragically bad takes fill users’ threads day in and day out. Occasionally somebody realizes how galaxy-brained, hateful, or straight-up incorrect their tweet is and deletes it - but does that mean it’s too late to see it?
Twitter itself appears to take user privacy fairly seriously, at least as much as any other of the major social media platforms. When you delete a tweet, it’s gone. At least, in theory.
Other internet actors such as Google and the Wayback Machine archive web pages for different reasons. Sometimes your own personal cache has kept a record of the tweet if you already saw it. Outside organizations record deleted tweets of important people and may be worth a search.
Broadly speaking, there’s no absolute guarantee that you can view someone else’s deleted tweet. But there are some places you can try. Keep reading to learn the best ways to view and save tweets after the original poster has deleted them.
Delete a Tweet 101: How It Works
Most people understand the concept of a tweet already. You type something and post it. Suddenly, unless it’s protected, it’s a publicly accessible piece of information that other users are free to react to, retweet, screenshot, and share across other social media platforms like Facebook, Insta, or Tik-Tok.
When a user deletes a tweet, Twitter takes it off of their account and any other accounts that have shared it. The tweet vanishes from the feeds of all Twitter users and even additional metadata about the tweet is no longer available publicly.
Any Quote Tweet that featured comments from the reposter will remain posted minus the reproduction of the original tweet. Retweets that have no additional commentary will no longer feature the deleted tweet.
Where to Find Someone Else’s Deleted Tweets
You can try a few different places to try and find a deleted tweet. Be warned, though, that many of the most ridiculous ones have been successfully destroyed before they could get recorded anywhere, so don’t spend too long looking around for something that might not be there.
Look on Twitter
Although Twitter does all this removal, other users may have already recorded the tweet with screenshots before it was deleted. Snoop around and see if anyone managed to get to it and repost it. If they did, you can screengrab it yourself.
It doesn’t hurt to post and comment looking for the tweet, either. There may already be users who are aware of some fabled post and trying hard to find it, in which case your odds are greatly increased.
You can use Google to view deleted tweets in two ways. First, you can run a query across Twitter.com by adding site:twitter.com before the rest of your search. Bear in mind that you need to have all or part of the tweet recorded word for word. If you’re trying to view deleted tweets that were only images, you’re much less likely to find them this way.
If that doesn’t work, you can try to find a cached version of the tweet. Google saves raw HTML data for websites so that they can load results for users even when the website isn’t working. The website could be broken for a variety of reasons, but Google still wants people to get results when they run a search.
Google updates its cache periodically. For a popular website like Twitter, it’s likely to replace old caches pretty rapidly, particularly for big accounts with lots of activity. So if you do manage to view deleted tweets with Google’s cache, make sure you screenshot them or record them immediately if you want to see them again later.
To find Google’s cached web pages, you click on the small arrow to the right of any single search result. Type in “Twitter george clooney” and you should see his Twitter account as the first result. Click the small grey triangle to the right and click “cached to view a cached version of his posts.
You then have a searchable example of his feed from the last time Google saved it. Don’t click away from this page because it could well be replaced by a new cache by the time you reload it.
Search the Wayback Machine
Also called the Internet Archive, the Wayback Machine available at archive.org records pages on the internet simply so people can see how the internet looked at various times in the past. It’s a pretty cool idea since the internet is always changing and it’s really helpful when you’re trying to view deleted tweets.
You need to get the whole URL of the Twitter account that posted the deleted tweet originally. Just go to their profile and copy the link from the address bar and then paste it into the search bar of the Wayback Machine. Select the date you want to view and you can see an archived version of the user profile.
The bad thing about relying on the Wayback Machine is that it might not have an archive from the day you’re looking for. George Clooney’s Twitter hasn’t been archived by the site in nearly three months as of this writing.
You also need to make sure you search for the right URL - if Twitter adds a tag at the end like “?lang=en” then you’re going to get a different result than the ‘pure’ URL. Make sure you tidy it up if you aren’t getting the results you want.
404 Error: Tweet Not Found
You might not be able to view deleted tweets with any of the methods in this guide. If someone posted and deleted their tweet within the span of a few minutes, for example, it’s unlikely any cache or archive source found it. Other users may have been fast enough, though.
If the tweet really can’t be found anywhere we mentioned here, your only option is to scour the web searching for someone else who already found it. Sometimes the tweet will have truly passed on into the ether, remembered and talked about but ultimately (and perhaps thankfully) lost.