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ephemeral: 🧼 Automatically delete your old Tweets with AWS Lambda

ephemeral is a Twitter timeline grooming program that runs for pretty much free on AWS Lambda. The project was originally forked from Harold and refactored for Lambda, and has since grown to include features like whitelisting and the option to run locally. This blog post discusses the thought process behind this project.

You can use ephemeral to automatically delete all tweets from your timeline that are older than a certain number of hours that you define. For instance, you can set your tweets to delete after one week (168h), or one day (24h).

The program will run once for each execution based on the trigger/schedule you set in AWS Lambda. It will delete up to 200 expired tweets (per-request limit set by Twitter's API) each run.

Set up

You will need to create a new Twitter application and generate API keys. The program assumes the following environment variables are set:


MAX_TWEET_AGE expects a value of hours, such as: MAX_TWEET_AGE = 72h

Optionally, you can whitelist certain tweets and save them from deletion by setting the variable WHITELIST with the tweet's ID as the value. Find the ID as the string of numbers at the end of the tweet's URL, for example: 1052624100617785344

You can also whitelist tweets using a substring contained in the tweet, for instance, the hashtag #remember.

Set one value to whitelist, or multiple values using the separator : like so:

WHITELIST = 1052624100617785344:1052942396034609152:#remember

You can set these variables in AWS Lambda when you create your Lambda function. For a full walkthrough with screenshots for creating a Lambda function and uploading the code, read this blog post. Skip to setting environment variables at this link.

Upload with

This handy bash script is included to help you upload your function code to Lambda. It requires AWS Command Line Interface. To set up, do pip install awscli and follow these instructions for Quick Configuration.

Run locally

If you want to run ephemeral on the command line, set the expected environment variables in your shell environment. You can then run the program by using go and passing the --local flag:

cd ephemeral/
go run main.go --local


Copyright (C) 2018-2020 Victoria Drake

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Affero General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU Affero General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU Affero General Public License along with this program. If not, see