Tweet, Tweet, Delete: EU Politicians on Twitter


Ever shared something before you read it, or made a glaring typo in a tweet that came back to haunt you? As recent months have often reminded us, some politicians are only too human, and many have had their fair share of regrettable tweets.

Last week, leaders from 19 countries and the EU gathered in Hamburg, Germany to discuss some of the world’s most pressing problems. Eyes were, of course, on the leaders in attendance. But political leaders at home were active  at least on social media. Some leaders even found occasion to second guess their social media activity.

PolitWoops, a project by the Open State Foundation in The Netherlands, archives tweets deleted by politicians. They have curated several lists of politicians across the globe, including executive and legislative members of the governments in the EU, Africa and Asia. We examined the deleted tweets of EU politicians while their heads of government were at the G20 Summit to see if the meeting triggered any regrettable sentiments.

Over 81 politicians tweeted something they wished to remove from the Twitterverse with the span of just those two days. Though this group deleted over 170 tweets, only a handful of tweets made an explicit reference to the Summit itself.

Of those who deleted tweets, most chose to do so about 2 hours after the original post. The top prize goes to Daniel Hannan, a conservative British politician and member of the European Parliament, who deleted the most tweets (20) during this time period.

While some might attribute such a heavy rate of deletion to a typo-prone thumb, Hannan does not appear to repost Tweets similar to his deleted tweets. The majority of his deleted tweets were retweets or replies.

Of course, the dataset cannot capture the actual regret or remorse a politician may feel from an ill-advised tweet. Nor does it capture the tweets their constituents really, really wish their representative would delete.

Explore the chart below to see who deleted the most tweets during the G20 Summit, from July 7-8.

Methodology Note: Every data source has some oddities, and Politwoops is no exception. In the interests of transparency, we would like to note that we found some outliers within the dataset that we were not able to independently verify.  For example, a politician had an irregularly large number of total deleted tweets, considering their total tweets. There are multiple possible reasons for such a result. Additionally, it was difficult to evaluate which, if any, deleted tweets, or politicians were potentially missing from returned results. We considered a narrow scope of analysis to mitigate for these potential concerns.