It's a universal truth that social media posts don't always age gracefully. While there's certainly upsides to being able to share our every bite-sized thought instantly on Twitter, there's also downsides, and those include, well, the fact that your Twitter ends up being a record of all your bite-sized thoughts, even ones you may later regret sharing. Luckily, your social media record isn't permanent, and you can learn how to delete your old tweets and retain your account's followers—without having to reread the potential cringe-fest awaiting you in the depths of your account.
First, you should know that it's not weird to want to delete your old tweets. Things happen. Maybe you recently got a job that requires you to have a more professional account, maybe you grew up a little and don't want to see tweets from back before you were less social justice-aware, or maybe you just want a fresh start without deleting your years-old account. These are all totally valid reasons to start fresh.
OK, let's dive into the how-to. Here's the slightly unfun news: If you have more than 3,200 tweets, you're going to have to consider using a service. Even if you are willing to go back through your account and manually delete all your tweets, you'll only be able to delete the newest 3,200 you tweeted, because Twitter only displays the most recent 3,200. That doesn't mean, however, that people are unable to search up tweets from beyond 3,200 by searching your @ and keywords, so if you're concerned about things you may have tweeted, you should still look into scrubbing your tweets.
Twitter recommends against using third-party mass-delete services, and having used one myself, I can say that using one is pretty much guaranteed to make your account buggy for at least a little while. But Twitter also says this in its Help Center: "We do not provide a way to bulk-delete tweets. You can only delete Tweets manually, one by one." So, you know, rock and a hard place, here. (However, you can use Twitter's advanced search to look up tweets containing keywords, so if you're only looking for certain things instead of a total slate cleaning, that could be your ticket.)
Twitter's official advice is that if you're worried about retaining your username, you start a second, dummy account with a throwaway username, switch your current username over to that account, and then wholesale delete your old account. That way, you'll preserve your @, but all your old tweets will be gone. However...so will all your followers.
So, despite the fact that Twitter recommends against it, considering a service is a route you can take. There are a few free tools you can use, like TweetDelete, which is the one that I used to scrub my own account, which had around 30,000 tweets. Unfortunately, the service didn't quite work for me—possibly because I had so many tweets. I saw tweets disappear in real-time, and watched my tweet count fluctuate up and down, but eventually I hit a problem where, no matter what I did, the same tweets from years ago were showing up on my profile as my most recent timeline, which was definitely not what I wanted. If you have a smaller number of tweets, this service might work out better for you.
But if you have a lot of tweets and truly want a deep scrub, you should shell out for a paid service. Mashable mentions TweetDeleter, which costs $5.99 a month, allows you to delete up to 3,000 tweets per day, and lets you auto-delete tweets that are older than a set date. If you're not willing to wait for tweet deletion to be meted out in 3,000-per-day chunks, "[t]he service also has an unlimited option for $8.99 a month that lets you wipe your entire history clean at once and also lets you upload your archive," Mashable explains.
Mashable also mentions the similar service TweetEraser, which costs $6.99 for 30 days, and on top of helping you wipe your account clean, provides "Twitter archive importing, multiple account support, and ad-free use," Mashable says.
All of these are valid options for deleting your old tweets. And even if you're not looking to scrub your account, using Twitter's advanced search every once in a while to tidy up isn't a bad idea, because, to be frank, we all say stuff we're gonna regret eventually, and the internet is unfortunately there to help us preserve it forever.