I sent this notice around internally here at Techdirt, but figured it might be useful to state this publicly. Historically, Techdirt would often embed tweets using the embed feature from Twitter. This was always somewhat risky for a few reasons, including that people could (and often did) delete tweets. Though Twitter’s embed feature had a somewhat graceful failstate, where deleted tweets would still show the missing text.
There’s always a risk with embedding anything that the service you’re using will disappear. We’ve had plenty of old embedded content disappear around here. For years, we used Docstoc to embed legal filings and other documents, and that disappeared. There are tradeoffs with any approach.
However, the erratic and unpredictable situation with Twitter right now is proving to be too risky to continue trusting that embedded tweets will survive. The new owner’s insistence that the company might need to declare bankruptcy, while he continues to drive advertisers away in droves, and comes up with “subscription” ideas that don’t seem poised to move the needle very far (not to mention firing a huge percentage of the workforce without a clear understanding of who was needed to keep the site running) all contribute to this uncertainty.
In response, I’ve asked everyone on the team that if they want to include tweets going forward that they should post screenshots of the tweet (which can link back to the original tweet) and then include the text (or a clear description) of the tweet in the text of the article.
I’m disappointed that we need to do this, as embedding is a nice feature, and a core part of how the internet should work. And while I’m not expecting Twitter to just disappear overnight (or, really, disappear at all), the odds of it happening have jumped up to a degree that we need to plan ahead, and this is how we’ll be doing it going forward.