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Covfefe And Confusion: A Quick Way to Save Tweets That Get Deleted

If you woke up this morning and checked social media, you would have noticed that the Internet is on fire with covfefe.

The nonsense word came from a tweet that President Trump posted at 12:06AM and then, at some point, deleted. (The legal question of an elected official deleting tweets that he sends as an elected official is, thankfully, way beyond my pay grade.) There is all kinds of speculation and humor around what the word means, but based on the tweet I think he was typing “coverage” and then got distracted or put his phone down and went back to sleep.

Despite President Trump’s deletion of the Tweet, I was able to look at it because I set up an easy way to get all his tweets, whether he deletes them later or not. I’m going to show you how to do it; all you need is a phone that can receive and send texts.

Saving Tweets

You do not have to be on Twitter to follow Twitter accounts. Did you know that? You can follow them by text. Twitter’s got an article on how to do this at https://support.twitter.com/articles/20170004 ; I’ll explain it here but if you’re from outside the US please read the article; outside the US there are other “shortcodes” you have to use to send a follow request to Twitter.

But if you’re in the US it’s very simple: just send the command follow [Twitter handle] to the code 40404.

For example, say I wanted to follow the National Library of Scotland. I’d send the text message follow natlibscot to 40404. (Watch out for your phone trying to autocorrect the Twitter handle!) A few seconds later I would get a confirmation and the instructions to send the text OFF @natlibscot if I wanted to stop following.

Even if the tweet was deleted later, it’ll still be sitting there in your text messages.

In the case of Donald Trump, archiving the tweet to understand covfefe isn’t necessary; there are many news outlets and blogs formally following him and formally archiving his tweets. But if you have a less popular account you follow that occasionally deletes tweets, or simply if you don’t want to miss anything from your favorite Twitter account, this is a rapid and simple way to make sure you get – and keep – tweets which might be deleted later.

2 replies »

  1. Thank you for the twitter follow command. My iphone kept inserting a dash, or hyphen, but 404-04 worked anyway. I now have my own undeletable twitter feed. I hope there is a special reward for your research, buzz and all. Best wishes, Carl

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