X Deactivates Old Media Links Amid Changes to Back-End Elements

It seems that X’s migration from the old Twitter branding is going to take a lot more unwinding as yet.

Over the weekend, reports emerged that all images and videos attached to any tweet created before 2014 had been rendered inactive in the app, in what initially seemed to be a cost-reduction measure.

More vandalism from @elonmusk. Twitter has now removed all media posted before 2014. Thats – so far – almost a decade of pictures and videos from the early 2000s removed from the service.

For example, here’s a search of my media tweets from before 2014. https://t.co/FU6K34oqmA

— Tom Coates (@tomcoates) August 19, 2023

Many speculated that this was likely caused by a reduction in storage, or a change to X’s network configuration, designed to lessen its data load, and thus reduce the company’s operating costs. But various investigations have since found that the media elements are still available, they’re just not where they should be, and as such, X’s system is having trouble finding the source and displaying it in posts/tweets.

But it’s inconsistent. Some people can see images and clips in some tweets, others are just showing text-based t.co links.

Some have suggested that the changeover from HTTP to HTTPS around 2014 could be to blame for the change, essentially de-railing some more recent clean-up work by the X team, while others have hypothesized that maybe this was a deliberate deactivation, in order to see if users would be upset about losing these links.

The impact for users is that you wouldn’t be able access any of that content, which could be annoying for retrospective searches, while for brands, it would mean that any embedded tweets with video or images would no longer be active on your website, and any of your classic campaigns would essentially be erased.

Well, not erased, as they are seemingly still somewhere on the web. But gone from view, and maybe gone forever, if this is indeed an actual test of a future direction for the app.

Another theory is that this is all part of Twitter.com transitioning to X.com as its home domain, and the X team encountering issues with mass data migration. Indeed, the platform is still predominantly branded as ‘Twitter’ and ‘tweets’ in all of its documentation and code, and it will likely face many challenges like this in making the switch.

We don’t know exactly what’s going on, and we can’t ask because X doesn’t have a press contact anymore, but it does seem like it’s making some sort of major change to its back-end infrastructure, which I’m tipping is linked to its domain switch.

Or, as noted, it could be a cost-cutting measure, as X continues to work to get back into the black, amid significantly reduced ad intake.

We’ll likely find out soon, as X continues to make changes to its internal architecture.

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