Sanders tops 2016 field in newly deleted tweets

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Presidential contenders are finding it impossible to quietly delete tweets on social media.

A tool that archives politician's deleted tweets came back online in late January and has recorded candidates deleting hundreds of tweets.

Democratic hopeful Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate Dems: Don't leave for break without Supreme Court vote Sanders: Young voters will 'come on board' Clinton's campaign The Trail 2016: The fallout MORE tops the list, with 58 deletions from January to March 4. In many of those cases, though, he just deleted retweets of others' social media posts. On the GOP side, John Kasich tops the list, with 31, ahead of the race's front-runner, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump camp touts million raised since debate Trump reveals how he calmed his nerves before debate GOP lawmakers give Trump bad reviews on debate performance MORE, who has 28 deletions.

Politwoops has recorded high-profile deletions that captured press attention and sparked controversy or ridicule.

Trump deleted a tweet accusing Ted CruzTed CruzFunding bill rejected as shutdown nears Cruz: Clinton 'tired' and 'formulaic' during debate The Trail 2016: Fight night MORE of employing illegal tactics in the Iowa caucuses.

And Sanders's campaign deleted a tweet that mistook a list of nouns for adjectives after being mocked on social media.

A review of the archive over the past month shows the press took notice of most bombshell deletions almost instantly, as the intense scrutiny on this year's candidates carries over to social media.

But many of the deletions are more run-of-the-mill fixes, from purging retweets to posts with minor typos.

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Social media has become increasingly important in recent elections, with campaigns finding the reward of pushing their message directly to voters far outweighs the risk of mistakes.

More than 1 million tweets were sent about the elections on Super Tuesday. The most retweeted message during Thursday night's Fox News Republican debate wasn't even sent by a GOP campaign. A tweet by Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump camp touts million raised since debate Trump reveals how he calmed his nerves before debate GOP lawmakers give Trump bad reviews on debate performance MORE received more than 20,000 retweets and 34,000 likes.

There are no set rules for campaigns to follow when deleting tweets, but digital operatives say there are best practices.

Deleting typos is the most frequent reason, and excusable, they say.

When a staffer accidentally sends a tweet from a boss's account, experts recommend quick deletion and acknowledgement of the mistake.

And while they say tweets can be amended, it's now known they won't disappear forever.

Here's a roundup of how many tweets each of the top candidates deleted from late January when Politwoops went back online to Friday, March 4:

 

BERNIE SANDERS

Number of total deletions: 58

Number of retweets deleted: 36

Median time between tweet and deletion: 1 minute

Longest lag time between tweet and deletion: 5 hours

Most of Sanders's deletions are retweets that are quickly removed but still captured by the Politwoops database. For example, Sanders's campaign retweets a message so it makes it into followers' streams before the retweet is deleted. Observers say this could be a technique to keep the candidate's feed from filling up and diluting his own messages.

Sanders's deletions are the fastest of any candidate. The only two Sanders tweets ever deleted after five hours or more were one in which he was mocked online for mislabeling nouns as adjectives and a retweet of a journalist who quoted the musician Killer Mike at a rally.

 

JOHN KASICH

Number of total deletions: 31

Number of retweets deleted: 9

Median time between tweet and deletion: 1 minute

Longest lag time between tweet and deletion: 12 hours 

 

DONALD TRUMP

Number of total deletions: 28

Number of retweets deleted: 4

Median time between tweet and deletion: 1 hour

Longest duration between tweet and deletion: 1 week

The GOP front-runner may not have the most deletions, but his certainly get the most attention. His account retweeted a message by Twitter handle "@WhiteGenocideTM," that was later deleted. In other instance, the account pushed a quote disparaging GOP rival Ted Cruz, which was misattributed to former Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnRyan calls out GOP in anti-poverty fight The Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him MORE (R-Okla.).

The press also picked up on Trump's charges after the Iowa caucuses that said Cruz "illegally" stole the vote. Trump quickly deleted the tweet and reposted it without the reference to illegal behavior. Many of Trump's more minor deletions are tweets that asked followers to tune into media appearances. 

 

TED CRUZ

Number of total deletions: 15

Number of retweets deleted: 8

Median time between tweet and deletion: 14 minutes

Longest lag time between tweet and deletion: 1 week 

 

MARCO RUBIO

Number of total deletions: 10

Number of retweets deleted: 2

Median time between tweet and deletion: 1-2 minutes

Longest lag time between tweet and deletion: 1 day 

 

HILLARY CLINTON

Number of total deletions: 7

Number of retweets deleted: 2

Median time between tweet and deletion: 1 hour 

Longest lag time between tweet and deletion: 10 hours