Time to clean out old Tweets so they won't define you the rest of your life

DataSift deal turns fly-by-minute Twitter thoughts into shapers of your permanent record


Spring cleaning time came early to the web this year as social network vendors compete to make deals or privacy policy changes that would let them turn the private activity of customers into commodities faster and more invasively than their competitors.

Facebook's privacy settings need constant tuning, of course. Google shook up the whole social network environment, however, by announcing it would combine the bits of activity data from all its sites and services into packages that give a more comprehensive picture of people who never expected anyone to study their clicks so closely.

Following the leaders, but still in plenty of time to take advantage of the privacy fire sale, Twitter has changed the ephemeral nature of its service by signing up data-marketing company DataSift to collect, package and resell the past two years of Twitter messages under the banner

The benefit, at least according to DataSift, is that companies looking for a more complete picture of their brand images, attitudes of customers and trends within their core markets are no longer limited to analyzing a few weeks worth of Tweets to get their answers.

Instead they can build simplistic queries that sift Tweets by characteristics of the sender – geography, gender, attitude or audience size. They can also include content from a range of other social networks, including FaceBook, Twitter, Digg and Klout.

News that Google would be consolidating and marketing years worth of browsing history was disturbing because no one expects their browser history to become public without some significant warning – a warrant, an angry significant other or emails from HR warning they'd be up to check the "appropriateness" of the content in your cache.

Twitter is almost entirely public, so few people would be surprised if a Tweet or two was recirculated beyond their own list of followers or even off Twitter and into other networks.

Tweets are supposed to be quick, current and available for only a short time. Twitter shows members only about the past week's worth of messages from other people.

Members can go through the whole history of their own Tweets, but if no one else is reading them, why bother? No need to delete something you wish now you hadn't Tweeted then, to correct a mistake you made six months or a year ago or even remember the rant you went on against some inoffensive person or thing during that really hard time you went through last year.

DataSift is changing all that.

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