Twitter Glitch Deletes Millions of Photos From Elon Musk’s X

Twitter X logo

Photographers who have been on X (formerly Twitter) for more than nine years may want to check if their photos posted before December 2014 are still on the website after millions of images were deleted.

A glitch caused the pictures to disappear and be replaced by a meaningless link. Hyperlinks have also been affected. The issue was first brought to light by Brazilian vtuber Danilo Takagi and highlighted by Tom Coates over the weekend.

Twitter’s Most Famous Ever Photo Fell Victim

The famous selfie taken by Ellen DeGeneres at the 2014 Oscars which became the platform’s most retweeted photo ever also disappeared but was mysteriously restored by Sunday morning.

Oscars 2014 selfie
Ellen DeGeneres’ famous selfie was deleted but then restored.

Similarly, a widely-shared photo posted by President Barack Obama after he won reelection in 2012 is also still on the platform. But these two popular photos appear to be among the very few still visible on X from this period.

The Elon Musk-owned company has so far not commented on the mass deletion of photos leaving some to speculate that X is trying to save money. However, a Community Note attached to Tom Coates’ tweet says the photos are still on “Twitter/X’s servers” suggesting it is some kind of bug affecting the content.

Musk did tweet on Saturday to say: “The sad truth is that there are no great ‘social networks’ right now. We may fail, as so many have predicted, but we will try out best to make there be at least one.” It’s unclear what he means by that.

“Even if it’s a bug, the reporting is that it didn’t just happen overnight,” writes Coates. “So it’s either directly an Elon decision, the unfortunate accident of an Elon decision, or wasn’t fixed because the engineering team is overstretched/ill-equipped because of an Elon decision.”

How to See if Your Photos are Still There

If a user has been posting a lot in the last nine years, it’s virtually impossible to scroll all the way back to 2014. However, you can shortcut it by typing “From:[your username] until:2014-01-01” into the Twitter search bar.

If a user wants to save their photos from the platform, they can download their Twitter archive — saving all the tweets and media contained within them.

Update 8/22: After publication, X support said the following: “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.”

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.