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X says it’s squashing the bug that deleted Twitter images and links

X, formerly known as Twitter, says it’s working to restore potentially millions of images and links that suddenly and rather mysteriously disappeared from the platform in recent days.

“Over the weekend we had a bug that prevented us from displaying images from before 2014,” the company said in a post on its Support account on Monday. “No images or data were lost. We fixed the bug, and the issue will be fully resolved in the coming days.”

Over the weekend we had a bug that prevented us from displaying images from before 2014. No images or data were lost. We fixed the bug, and the issue will be fully resolved in the coming days.

— Support (@Support) August 21, 2023

The issue was first spotted by X user Tom Coates, who worked out that images posted directly to the site between 2011 and 2014 were failing to show, while links using Twitter’s built-in URL shortener had also gone dead.

Before X responded, rumors started to fly about what was going on, with some even suggesting that it was a sneaky move by the company to remove tons of old content in a bid to save on server costs.

Prior to X’s claim that the issue had been caused by a bug, Coates said: “Even if the images start to come back, that doesn’t mean it was ‘just a bug.’ It’s just as plausible that they’d test something out and rapidly choose to backtrack when they saw the response.”

Considering the timing, another perhaps more plausible explanation could be that an unexpected error occurred as the company migrated the site to as part of its recent rebranding move.

Among the images deleted by the glitch was the famous selfie posted by Ellen DeGeneres during the 2014 Oscars, a tweet that very quickly broke the “most retweets” record, though, at the current time, it’s now the fifth most retweeted post of all time.

X has experienced quite a bit of disruption since Elon Musk acquired the company for $44 billion in October 2022. After giving more than half the workforce its marching orders, the company has seen a number of outages as well as confusion over a revamp of its verification system earlier this year. Images and links suffered issues in an incident in March, while for a short time last week, the platform appeared to be slowing down links to news sites that had been critical of X since Musk’s takeover.

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Trevor Mogg
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