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Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)
You might be surprised to learn Twitter wasn’t always the cesspool of trolls, abuse, and spam it is today. The social network had a relatively innocent upbringing when it launched in 2006 and first gained fame at the South by Southwest technology conference a year later.
Most of its original members used the service for its intended purpose: to post 120-character updates about their everyday lives, even if that meant tweeting about the most mundane of topics.
Don’t believe us? Now there’s a tool to go back in time and see what your friends were posting 10 years ago. Created by Andy Baio, the former chief technology officer of Kickstarter, a short search function lets you see what the current profiles you follow posted on any given date. (Note: If you’re on mobile, you’ll need to search by “latest”).
You can use the tool by pressing on the link in Baio’s tweet below. This will show you tweets from 2008. To adjust the date, just change out the numbers in the search bar.
Want to see what your Twitter timeline would've looked like 10 years ago today, if you followed all the same people you do now? https://t.co/41a6iQcYhc
— Andy Baio (@waxpancake) May 24, 2018
That’s not all. If you remove the date parameter entirely and click “latest,” your feed will be sorted in reverse-chronological order, without any algorithms prioritizing your friend’s tweets.
By the way, if you remove the date parameter from that search and click "Latest," you get a strict reverse-chronological timeline with no algorithm junk. 🙌 https://t.co/OTOeFTZfiz
— Andy Baio (@waxpancake) May 24, 2018
“I realized I could reconstruct a complete timeline from any point in Twitter history of all the people you’re following now,” Baio told Motherboard. “When I tried it myself, the results were charming and surreal. Ten years ago, we used Twitter very differently: very little news, no hot takes, mostly just status updates that would later be the kind of thing you post on Instagram.”
It turns out, 10 years ago, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone was talking about being tipsy, and current CEO Jack Dorsey was cranking that Soulja Boy.
Barting home from ev and sara's house–a bit tipsy as expected
— Biz Stone (@biz) May 24, 2008
One more thing: crankthatsouljaboy
— jack (@jack) May 22, 2008
There was also very little news being posted on the site, and the pioneer publications that did have accounts typically only posted the title of their articles with a tinyURL link.
What Wal-Mart means to Dell – http://tinyurl.com/24unng
— CNET News (@CNETNews) May 24, 2007
Tsonga Is Out of French Open http://tinyurl.com/4eklp4
— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) May 24, 2008
As Twitter continues to make changes designed to clean up its platform, perhaps it should consider going back to its roots.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.