The Twitter logo is displayed at the entrance of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco.
Yesterday, Twitter made an announcement: The social media network is launching a new feature that will enable users to download an archive of their previous tweets. Though the feature is currently only available to some users, once it’s available, users will be able to “view tweets by month or search their archive for specific words, hashtags or other criteria,” reported USA TODAY‘s Brett Molina.
What does Twitter’s new archive mean for you, and what does it mean for social media?
First, let’s take a look at you. Sure, taking a trip down virtual memory lane could be awkward – in fact, it most likely will be. But resist the urge to cringe and give your Twitter history a download once you have access to the feature. You’ll be able to screen your past posts for particularly unsavory (and delete-worthy) excerpts. After all, that picture from last April’s party might not just be embarrassing – it could also prevent you from getting a job. Employers from a variety of fields are turning to social media to screen job applicants, so managing your online presence is increasingly important. As with all online profiles, it’s best to err on the side of professionalism.
Even if you keep your Twitter private, you’ll still benefit from the new feature; looking through your old tweets will be fun! Whether you’ve used your Twitter to complain about the stress of finals week, share interesting articles with friends or live-tweet Game of Thrones, taking a closer look at your tweets will let you reminisce – looking back at last week and last year.
And what does Twitter’s feature mean for social media?
For one thing, it’s a radical move toward transparency. With this new feature, Twitter is putting the user in control. Twitter won’t compile an archive unless you ask it to; users can only access their own archives on their own terms.
Users weren’t happy. Even National Geographic, which maintains a popular Instagram account, announced that it “would stop sharing new images until Instagram’s terms have been clarified.”
Taken together, however, these two examples illustrate an important lesson for peddlers of media old and new: Users value privacy.
Twitter’s new feature won’t make your account any more or less private, but it will put you in greater control of your social media presence. The ability to curate your tweets and manage your online brand is an extension of basic privacy – it places you in control of the image you share with the world.
So, when you’re able, take a glimpse at your Twitter archive. After all, there’s no telling what you might find.
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