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How to delete your old tweets and Facebook posts

Many celebrities have recently come under fire for old social media posts. 

Listen pal, I know you’re an angel. It is, and always will be, the case that you’re a perfect person, who was placed on this earth with a perfectly formed moral code. If they did wokest baby competitions, instead of focusing on that sexist bonny crap, you’d have won. You’ve never said, done, or even thought anything bad, and you’ve never even used a word that was later subject to semantic drift, because deep down you always knew it would come to be seen as offensive.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s how to delete all your definitely-not-offensive or even-slightly-stupid old Facebook and Twitter posts from when you were a kid. Remember, we’re all innocent until proven guilty.


How to delete some of your old Facebook posts

Think of a list of the most offensive words you can, including words and slurs that unfortunately used to be more commonly used as pejoratives among idiotic-school-children-who-were-definitely-not-you-never-you (think “chav”, “slut”, and “retard”). You may not remember if you or your friends wrote anything terrible (even in a poor attempt at humour), but the search bar may reveal that it was once more common than you recall.

Go to your Facebook Activity Log by going to your profile and clicking “View Activity Log” on the right hand side of your Cover Photo. Once you’ve clicked, you’ll see an “Activity Search” box on the top right. Use that to search for any offensive words you definitely didn’t ever use, but that some evil person may have posted on your Facebook page when you were somewhere else.

Also try embarrassing words and sentiments, as in the early days of Facebook there was no Messenger, meaning people often posted personal thoughts publicly on their Friend’s walls – think things like “wasted”, “drunk”, “break up”, etc. “Frape” a portmanteau of “Facebook” and “rape” used to be a common word to describe the act of someone else hijacking your Facebook – it’s a phrase that is now considered insensitive and offensive, so it might be a good idea to search for that too.

Next, go to your Facebook Settings and go to the Privacy subsection. Under “Who can see my stuff?” scroll down to the option “Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or Public?”. By choosing the option to “Limit The Audience For Old Posts On Your Timeline”, all of your historic posts will become more private. It’s also a good idea to change the rest of your privacy settings to ensure only friends can see your posts (you might want to clean up your Friends list at the same time).

You can also change the privacy of photos or photo albums you’ve uploaded. Click on a photo or album and then click the little people symbol next to the date it was uploaded. By choosing the “Only Me” option under “Who should see this?” you can keep any old, embarrassing photos that you don’t want to lose but also don’t want anyone else to see.

If there is a friend who you know you were particularly idiotic with as a youth, you can go to their profile and click the ellipses at the bottom right of their Cover photo. Choose “See Friendship” and it will show everything you ever posted on each other’s walls. You can scroll back and delete anything particularly dumb or embarrassing that you typed in the past.

How to delete all of your old Facebook posts

If you were a particularly stupid or embarrassing adolescent, you can just do a mass clean-up of everything you’ve ever said on the social network. Aside from deleting your whole profile (honestly, do it), you can use third party scripts or plug-ins to wipe everything you (I mean, the person who hacked you and cruelly made it look like you were born less than perfect) ever wrote on the site.

Some options are Social Book Post Manager, Absterge, and Facebook Timeline Cleaner (though users have had mixed-success).


How to delete some of your old Twitter posts

Much like Facebook, it’s very easy to search for particular words or phrases you might have said. Simply go to the search bar on the top right, and type in your handle (@lucy222 for example) followed by any words/phrases you want to check for.

You can also download your Twitter archive, a list of everything you’ve ever written on the site, and read through that to find anything you might want to delete. Simply go to your Settings, then Account, then scroll down and click “Request your archive”.

In addition or instead of this, you can delete all posts before a certain or set date (say, for example, everything you wrote before 2015). Some sites that will let you do this include,, and

How to delete all of your old Twitter posts

If you want to delete everything you’ve ever posted on Twitter, you can delete your account – but remember, the data is only fully gone after 30 days.

If you want to delete everything you’ve ever posted BUT keep your account, you can use Twitwipe – or use the services outlined in the previous section, but do it incrementally (most can only delete a few thousand tweets at once).

Finally, a word on the tone of this piece:

Many articles similar to this like to disguise their intention by saying here’s how to delete “embarrassing” posts, or how to delete your “data”. This is valid, but it is also not wrong to admit that you’ve changed and grown as a person, and that as a teenager you may have used words more carelessly and thoughtlessly than you do now. Historically, no one has been held to the standards of things their 13-year-old self said (even politicians are only judged for their college days), and millennials and today’s children shouldn’t be held to this standard just because they grew up in the digital age.

Deleting is an act that shows you are aware of how much you’ve grown and changed, that you’ve improved and learnt from your ignorance. We should all be ready to accept criticisms for our past selves, and it is not wrong for anyone to criticise you for what you posted – but it is also not wrong to reflect on your past self privately, using the techniques described above. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.

Photo: mdl70 via Flickr
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Childhood mythology is being revamped by digital monsters like Slenderman

The stories the younger generation tell one another are just as rich, and as terrifying.

“I am the spirit of dark and lonely water, ready to trap the unwary, the show-off, the fool...”

The eldritch tones of Donald Pleasance will breathe a chilly memory along the vertebrae of those of a certain age. That 1973 public information broadcast about water safety lingers long in the memory. But why? There was something about the hooded figure depicted beside the river where children cavorted that just resonated. A shadow, a memory, a whisper. It was as if we'd almost heard it before. It wasn't just a warning. It was a story.

Before Donald Pleasance kept Britain's children from its treacherous riverbanks, we had tales of ubiquitous river-hags. Two good examples are Peg Powler, who haunts the banks of the Tees, and Jenny Green Teeth, who stalks Shropshire's waterways.  Both of these terrifying water spirits live to drag youngsters to a watery lair. These monsters pan the world, from the native Penobscot people of Maine, with their child-luring swamp-woman Skwaktemus, to the Inuit's Qalupalik, a green-skinned water witch that reaches up from below the ice to snatch wayward and disobedient children.

These stories are geographically distant but carry essentially the same message: “Stay away from the water”. Predatory creatures embody a very real fear. The unimaginable nightmare of our children in real peril is blunted by the presence of a monster.

Children need stories as much as adults do; stories make sense of reality when reality is hard to understand. Stories are told to be re-told, to be embellished, to raise heroes and to make monsters.

For people of the Dark and Lonely Water generation, including me, it's easy to assume that today's kids have lost the art of storytelling. We say social media has diffused, has numbed, has snuffed the flame of imagination. Yet perhaps it hasn't. Perhaps we just got old. On the contrary, the stories the younger generation tell each other are just as rich. Monsters are still being made. This world of ours is still being understood.

There is real danger out there. There are real monsters. But now they come in new forms, they lurk in new lairs.

Today, the internet is the new hunting ground of the monster. Grooming, trolling, cat-fishing and scamming have become the MOs of the vile in our society and, as if in direct response, legends and myths have sprung from the same place.

Creepypasta, 4Chan and /nosleep are breeding colonies of legend. Forums and social media have taken the place of the skipping-rope chants and the childhood whispers. Young people still know Bloody Mary, yet Black-Eyed Kids and the Goatman have usurped her from her throne. Nefarious rituals and games like Hooded Man or Elevator to Another World have been born of the internet age, submitted as stories and experiences. Like the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water in the 70s, they have touched a common nerve.

The most iconic of these net-dredged horrors is Slenderman: born of a paranormal Photoshop competition, his legend has transmogrified into an internet Tulpa, the power of which played a significant part in the decision of 12-year-olds Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser to stab their friend Bella Leutner 19 times. He is strengthened with every share, every fan image, every account of his being. It is no wonder that he has become flesh in the hearts and minds of those who need him, who want to escape into his world.

The readers of the forums that bear these eldritch fruits know the content isn't real. Yet disbelief is intentionally suspended. As it says on the /nosleep board guidelines “Everything is true here, even if it's not. Don't be the jerk in the movie theater [sp] hee-hawing because monkeys don't fly.”  It's disrespectful to negate the skill or the talent that it takes to write a story or make an image on Photoshop. This leaves space for storytelling. We need stories.

These stories stir something inside us, lend a bellow to the flames of our imagination. Images, anecdotes and instructions - they are monsters we have the power to control. Online, we can pass on the whispers, we have the ability to interact with the shadows. Online we can be the purveyors of this mythology. We can tell each other stories. We can control. If we make a monster, it is ours. Most importantly, we can escape from reality and immerse ourselves in our monsters.

Not just monsters lurk online, there are games and rituals, rich in their own mythology. The illicit Ouija board in the parks and graveyards of my own childhood are dwarfed by the trans-cultural crucible of today's games. With the ingenuity of Koji Suzuki's cursed video in Ring, far eastern influence and technology are pervasive throughout. Japan can boast the ghost-summoning Satoru-kun, and the White Kimono game. Both are alleged to summon spirits, Satoru-kun specifically with a mobile phone. There are many more of these games sprouting up from all over the rest of the world eg.- Mexico's ' El Juego Del Libro Rojo' (Red Book game) and Portugal's Ritual da Televisão (Television ritual) and nearly all carry grave warnings.

These nebulous games, like the internet's monsters carry their own stories. Peruse Reddit and you'll find accounts and speculation from those who claim to have played and been changed or had their lives altered by what they've done. The comments below the hundreds of accounts begging for advice are a mix of sincerity and concern.

“Dude, luck only lasts so long, and even longer less when you tempt things you know nothing of.”

“OP, you messed up big time. You're always supposed to follow the rules of the game as completely as you can!”

“You idiot! Ghost games are not for play! Especially japanese ones, they are dangerous”

“Get some sage. Burn the sage, and wave it into every corner of every room in the house... I would recommend putting salt across doorways and window sills, anything that would be an 'entry' into the house, but it sounds like you may have summoned it inside the house”

Everything is true here even if it's not.

But how can we know for sure? Do we really know that the user didn't summon something terrible from the void they opened with one of these games?

That's what makes them so compelling. That's what makes Slenderman, Smile Dog and Jeff the Killer so iconic. Like that friend of your mate's brother who went mad after he did an Ouija board down the park, we are still whispering, we are still embellishing and interacting.

The internet is open, unchartered landscape, there are no rules of the real world in which to weave mythology and the quest is to be the creator of something that wriggles from our grasp and is embraced, formed and made flesh by a collective consciousness. Are we in some way thankful for these creatures that bring us together over oceans and time zones?

Phones and tablets in the hands of our children are frightening to us: they are the unknown, the window into an abyss. Yet from that abyss, we are like our ancestors, toasting heraldry and horror, and making new myths.

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski, published by Orenda Books is out now.