This week, Twitter opened up its archive to the public, making it possible for users to search every Tweet that's ever been published. According to the site's engineering blog, Twitter's search engine has indexed about half a trillion sent tweets, dating from its launch in 2006.
Previously, the entire archive was only available to a few partners, like social analytics platform Gnip (which was subsequently acquired by Twitter in September), the Library of Congress and MIT's new Laboratory for Social Machines, which got a $10 million investment from the social giant in October.
Of course, while the public archive can let you look back at conversations around much-discussed topics like sporting events, elections, TED Talks, memes and gasp-worthy moments on Scandal, it also means that your earliest awkward stabs at tweeting can be seen by just about anyone.
But never fear – there is a way to expunge them from the record, if need be. Users can download their personal backlog, and each tweet has a live link back to the original, which can then be deleted.
There are other ways to remove wide swaths of your Twitter history with apps like Delete Tweets, Tweet Cleaning (free) and Tweetinator (paid), or services that require you to sign in with your Twitter account, like Twit Wipe and Tweet Eraser.