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Back when our favorite TV heroes received notes that self destructed, we didn’t dream of the self-destructing possibilities the World Wide Web would open for us. Today, you can have such things as self-destructing online messages, self-destructing photos and videos, temporary webpages, and even disposable email addresses. So in that spirit, why not have self-destructing tweets?
Twitter is a timely medium, so when I first set my eyes of efemr – a self-destructing tweet provider – I thought, what’s the point? No one pays attention to my tweets after two hours anyway, so why would I want to delete them? But then I got to thinking, and I realized this idea has a lot of potential. Twitter’s inherent timeliness is exactly what makes efemr a good idea.
With Twitter showing old tweets from who knows how long ago, people on the Web may encounter things you’ve tweeted in the past; things you might not want them to find 2 months after the fact. True, you shouldn’t publish things if you don’t want them seen by others, but it does make sense to tweet a timely update, and not want it to stay around forever. This is exactly what efemr is for.
What Is Efemr?
In truth, efemr is not exactly a Web app, and it’s definitely not a mobile app. To access it, all you have to do is point your browser (whether desktop or mobile) to efemr.com, and log in using your Twitter account. While logged in, special hashtags will cause your tweets to delete themselves automatically after the allotted time.
Efemr’s workflow is convenient, but certainly has its glitches, although its beta status might mean they won’t stay around forever. You have to be logged in to efemr in order for it to work, but this does not mean the website must be open in your browser at all times. Tweets will continue to self destruct even if the efemr tab is closed, but you might want to check that you’re still logged in every once in a while, especially if you restart your browser.
This is another point where efemr can get slightly confusing. If you point your browser at efemr.com again, it will not seem as if you’re still logged in. If, however, you head over to efemr.com/follow, you’ll find that you’re still logged in (assuming you still are, that is).
Once logged in, you can continue to tweet as you normally would, from whatever client or interface you choose. When you want to create a self-destructing tweet, simply add the time at the end of the tweet in the form of a hashtag, like so:
This will cause the above tweet to delete itself from the world after 1 hour. You can also use a hashtag such as #5m to delete your tweet after 5 minutes. There’s no limit to these hashtags: you can use #23m, #3h, and even #1h #27m, if you want.
It is worth noting that tweets don’t actually disappear at exactly the right times. I’ve had #5m tweets self destruct after 7-8 minutes, #3m tweets disappear after 6 minutes, and #23m tweets self destruct after almost half an hour. But still, the tweets disappeared every time, despite the slight tardiness.
Efemr keeps an organized list of all your deleted tweets for you, so you can still access them after they’ve disappeared from the public domain. The list includes the tweet’s creation time and date, and a retweet button, in case you want to send it back into the world.
The retweet button is automatic — you don’t get to edit your tweet before it’s sent out again — so you’ll be sending out a self-destructing tweet yet again, with the same time frame as the original one.
It’s important to remember, though, that this is Twitter we’re dealing with, and there’s only so much control you can have over a social network. Naturally, if someone retweeted your tweet before it self destructed, there’s not much you can do about it, and the retweet will not be deleted. It’s still a nice way to ensure the original tweet won’t appear on your own profile, but don’t rely on it as a fool-proof method to completely get rid of tweets. In other words, if you really don’t want it online, don’t tweet it in the first place!
What do you think of this self-destructing tweets idea? Is it useful? Let us know in the comments!
Image credit: breaking tweet image via Shutterstock