Langolier

Langolier

I joined Twitter in October 2007 when I was 21 years old. It was a different time, a different world, I socialized with different people and, frankly, I was a different person myself. While I wouldn’t say I actively regret anything I’ve ever posted, I do acknowledge that some of that stuff was geared toward that small community of close friends. There are definitely things I wish I had worded differently. I grew up, I learned tact, diplomacy, and when to keep my mouth shut. With all of that in mind, I decided that there was no value in retaining old tweets once they reach a certain age, and I built a tool to automate the process of deleting them. (Actually, I do keep private backups of all my old tweets, including the deleted ones, via twitstash.)

Langolier is a utility that removes tweets, retweets, and likes from Twitter once they reach a configured age. These tweets can either be gathered live from an API query, or they can be extracted from a downloaded archive file. For small accounts with fewer than 3,000 tweets or so, API mode works great on its own. For older accounts with thousands upon thousands of tweets, API pagination limitations start interfering with the ability to programmatically access older content. In these cases, an archive export is necessary to find all the older IDs that need to be deleted. In typical use cases, Langolier will need to run once (or zero times!) on a downloaded archive, then it can be configured to run periodically against the API.

Langolier is designed around configuration files, so one installation can switch between multiple configurations to manage several Twitter accounts. I currently run the tool in API mode every 15 minutes to clean my public accounts.

The name Langolier is taken from a Stephen King collection entitled Four Past Midnight. One of its novellas, “The Langoliers,” features dreadful flying entities whose sole purpose is to devour time after it has been used up by the present. If that’s not the perfect name, heck, I don’t know what is.

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