For ages now, Twitter has only allowed you to search for tweets back for about a week. Looking for a tweet older than that? You were out of luck, at least using Twitter itself. But now, that’s changing.
In a post today, Twitter says that some older tweets are now going to be available. How far back? That’s not said; but, it seems like tweets that are particularly popular or notable will be available. From Twitter’s post:
As we roll this out over the coming days, the Tweets that you’ll see in search results represent a fairly small percentage of total Tweets ever sent. We look at a variety of types of engagement, like favorites, retweets and clicks, to determine which Tweets to show.
Seeking Old Tweets
That’s nice to have, and it certainly makes sense that Twitter is doing more to ensure that people can find some of those important tweets right on Twitter itself, such as the most retweeted tweet ever, “Four more years” from Barack Obama:
Oops. Yes, that’s an old tweet, but it’s Slate retweeting Obama’s tweet. In a search for barack obama four more years on Twitter, I couldn’t find the original tweet at all — and I had to do a ton of scrolling to get back to November.
Have You Met Twitter’s Advanced Search?
I had more luck when I used Twitter’s advanced search feature. There, I was able to narrow my search to tweets made just by the @barackobama account for “four more years,” and that brought the famous tweet up:
At first, however, only the November 5 tweet shown in the screenshot above appeared first. After about a minute, the famous November 6 tweet suddenly popped up ahead of that. And, after a few more minutes, this happened: a January 21 tweet moved into the top spot:
I suspect that this is down to Twitter still adjusting to searching through a larger collection of tweets. I also suspect it will get better, over time.
Speaking of time, the default with Twitter is to list tweets chronologically, even if you use its advanced search page.
If you find yourself having to do a lot of scrolling to find what you want, after doing a search, you might consider Topsy. There, you’ll get more date range options as well as a bigger collection of tweets than even Twitter has.