Twitter has reportedly modified the way embedded tweets are rendered, causing certain tweets to disappear on external websites. While Twitter previously displayed tweets embedded on websites even after they had been deleted, the company appears to have changed the way that these tweets are displayed, hiding them after the author deletes them. Instead of displaying the content of an embedded tweet after deletion, Twitter now displays a blank box on external websites — recently confirmed to be an intentional change by a Twitter employee.
The microblogging service’s switch to hiding tweets embedded on external websites after they have been deleted was first spotted and shared by user Kevin Marks on Twitter. Due to this change, deleted tweets embedded on blogs, news websites, and elsewhere on the Internet will now be displayed as a blank box. Before Twitter changed how embedded tweets work, text from deleted tweets would still be displayed on external websites.
While the company’s decision to obscure deleted embedded tweets may have been taken with privacy in mind, it does impact websites that have embedded tweets may later be deleted. These include tweets by public officials, or from tipsters and other notable figures that are routinely cited using embedded tweets. The decision to hide deleted tweets from embeds could potentially disrupt countless stories on the Internet that have served as a record of public officials’ statements cited through embedded tweets.
Marks points out that when embedded tweets were originally designed, engineer Ben Ward had revealed that the embed code had been designed as a blockquote containing the tweet content. “If it’s deleted, or 1000 years in the future, the text remains,” Ward had tweeted in 2011.
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