In a perplexing turn of events, X, the social media giant formerly known as Twitter prior to its recent rebranding, finds itself grappling with a technical anomaly that has rendered a considerable number of historical posts devoid of images and functional hyperlinks. The issue at hand pertains to the display of older tweets containing attached images and links generated via Twitter’s built-in URL shortener. While the exact commencement date of this predicament remains elusive, it was brought to the forefront by Tom Coates in a post on a Saturday afternoon, corroborated by Brazilian vtuber @DaniloTakagi, who had flagged the matter a couple of days earlier.
The prevailing concern appears to be centered on tweets predating December 2014, a timeline discernible through an assessment of posts on my personal account. Notably, videos remain unaffected, an observation consistent with Twitter’s introduction of native image support in 2011 and subsequently integrated videos in 2016. The fallout from this issue manifests in the form of non-functional links, such as those to YouTube, reduced to mere text accompanied by a non-operational t.co URL.
Notably, one of the most iconic tweets in history—the famed selfie shared by 2014 Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres, featuring luminaries like Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence—became an unfortunate casualty of the glitch. This tweet, a hallmark of its era, garnered over 2 million retweets and remains etched in the annals of Twitter history. However, it should be noted that the image’s restoration transpired over the course of Saturday night or early Sunday morning, as Tom Coates astutely pointed out.
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Curiously, despite speculations that the issue might stem from Elon Musk’s strategic cost-containment measures, the preservation of the original media within affected tweets implies an inadvertent error or glitch. Such technical disruptions have been increasingly observed since the organizational transition and subsequent restructuring that transpired since the acquisition and extensive workforce reductions of the previous year.
Several accounts of disrupted tweeted images and links have surfaced, yet a glimmer of hope emerges as select historical images remain accessible. One such image, posted to President Barack Obama’s account following his victorious 2012 re-election campaign, depicts an embrace shared between the former President and the First Lady. While the restoration status of this particular image remains ambiguous, it remained visible as of the latest observations.
The timeline in which this issue emerged appears to be linked to the evolution of Twitter’s functionalities. Changes in December 2014 heralded the emergence of “enhanced URL enrichment,” which enabled previews for linked web content and native attachments without impinging on Twitter’s 140-character limit. Developer documentation indicates that metadata reflecting these enhancements began to surface around this period, underscoring the significance of these changes.
From the vantage point of X’s Developer Platform Data Dictionary:
“In March 2012, the expanded URL enrichment was introduced. Before this time, the Tweet payloads included only the URL as provided by the user. So, if the user included a shortened URL it can be challenging to match on (expanded) URLs of interest. With both Historical PowerTrack and the Search APIs, these metadata are available starting in March 2012.”
Regrettably, inquiries for clarification or comment from Twitter, now X, and its key figures—Elon Musk and X CEO Linda Yaccarino—have gone unanswered, leaving the user community and observers awaiting further insights into this unexpected and puzzling glitch.