If you’re considering deactivating your Twitter account, whether to tackle social media addiction or for other reasons, you might want to read this post and reconsider.
First, a little backstory: I decided to take two weeks off Twitter in mid-November because I was wasting all my time in it. Simply logging out of Twitter on my PC and smartphone didn’t work, so I decided to deactivate my account and delete the Twitter apps. After a few days of back-and-forth tussle, I emerged victorious and stayed off Twitter for ten days. When I reactivated my account in early December, nearly everything was missing.
This is what I have learnt in the process:
Your account data will not be restored immediately
I deactivated Twitter on 23rd November, but was back a day later to tweet some crap (I had to!). When I logged in, all my user lists were empty (followers, following, lists). It didn’t bother me much because my timeline was still updating. Plus, Twitter had warned about delays in data restoration.
After tweeting the aforementioned “crap”, regret set in and I deactivated my account again (I know, I have issues). I reactivated my account about ten days later, and again found all my lists were empty. No big deal, because delays! But things were different this time – my timeline was completely dead. I actually had 0 followers and was following 0 people.
As I looked around, I found more missing stuff. All the mentions were gone from my Interactions tab (a quick search surfaced those tweets, so they were obviously still there but weren’t showing up in the Interactions tab). All the images I had uploaded were gone (the tweets associated with those images were still there). Worst of all, the 800+ tweets I had favorited were also gone (I spotted this after a couple of days). I use Twitter as a complementary bookmark service, so losing all my favorites was a bummer. Again, I did not pay too much attention to all this, because Twitter says it can take up to 24 hours for your data to be restored.
Some of your data may not be restored at all
48 hours passed, and not a single thing had been restored, so I set out to contact an actual person at Twitter. It’s notoriously hard to find someone to talk to at a free online service company (it’s free, don’t complain!), and thankfully that wasn’t the case here. I found a contact form quite easily, and sent an email to The Twitter Support Institution. An email from Cheerful Twitter Employee arrived the next day saying everything was fixed. I am impress, Twitter!
Except, that wasn’t really the case. My followers and following lists were back, my timeline was flowing like butter again, my…no, that was it. Mentions, images, and favorites still missing. I sent another email stating this, didn’t get any answer for three days, so I emailed again. Cheerful Twitter Employee promptly closed the support ticket and let me know that Twitter engineers are on it, and I need not check back. Here’s a snapshot of the full conversation. None of the missing data has been restored since.
I want to be optimistic, and hope that the Twitter engineers will indeed fix this issue one day. Then again, I have been hopeful of getting Login Approvals (two step authentication) in my Facebook account for over a year, and I still don’t have it.
Twitter will delete your account after 30 days
Unlike Facebook, which will retain your deactivated account indefinitely, Twitter will delete your account if you don’t reactivate it within 30 days. Now, this won’t come as a nasty surprise or something – Twitter warns you very clearly during the deactivation process. You will also get email alerts when the deactivation period approaches 30 days. Still, something to keep in mind if you’re considering staying off the Internet for more than a month.
What you can do instead
So, the bottom line is that you shouldn’t deactivate your Twitter account. The entire process might go off very smoothly in your case, but chances are things will break. It’s certainly not as seamless as deactivating/reactivating Facebook.
That doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to stay away from Twitter (or any other service that you’re addicted to). Log out of Twitter from all your devices. Delete all your Twitter apps and bookmarks. Remove all traces of Twitter from your browser history – this way, the browser won’t recommend Twitter when you start typing ‘t’. Install a tool that will outright block Twitter for a period of time.
While we’re talking Twitter addiction, why not follow me there! I am not a complete disaster, I swear.