Twitter Keeping Your DMs Even After You Think They’re Deleted

We’re all familiar with this scenario: You’re on social media in a very public space but want to speak to a friend privately, so you jump onto a personal message format, which many social networks have. If you’re on Twitter, you send a direct message, or DM, to speak to your friend and do so happily knowing it’s private.

But it turns out that it’s not as private as everyone thought. Twitter has been accused of holding on to the DMs well past the time of when you delete your account.

Lack of Privacy in DMs

It was reported last Friday that TechCrunch was able to find direct messages on Twitter belonging to people whose accounts were deactivated or suspended. This means your private direct messages are not very private at all.

It also means it goes against the social network’s Privacy Policy that claims accounts that are deactivated will be “deleted.” It says on the law enforcement guideline page that after a user deactivates their account, “there is a very brief period in which we may be able to access account information, including tweets.”

However, TechCrunch found messages from accounts that had been deactivated or suspended long ago showing that as far as DMs are concerned, that data isn’t deleted – it’s still around.


Just last month it was revealed that some Android users’ tweets who had enabled the “Protect your tweets” setting may have been made public because of a bug that disabled the privacy feature if account changes were made.

After this was made public, Twitter said that they “recognize and appreciate the trust you place in us and are committed to earning that trust every day.”

Additionally, their Privacy Policy states that they “believe you should always know what data we collect from you and how we use it and that you should have meaningful control over both.”

Proceed with Caution

Because of Twitter’s statements, it makes it hard to trust them. They stated we should know what data they’re collecting on us and how they use it and that we should have control of that. That all sounds great and very reasonable.

However, those messages that are meant to be most private, direct messages, aren’t private at all if another website is able to get access to them many years later. It makes Twitter appear to be very disingenuous.

Does this make you worry about your Twitter messages? Did you deactivate an account at one point? Let us know how this Twitter news that they retain DMs long after an account is deactivated affects you.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.