After the Washington Football Team overcame the Cowboys on Thursday night to technically ascend to first place in the NFC East, the franchise’s social media account posted a funny tweet.
“STOP THE COUNT!” the team exclaimed, along with an image of the current standings in the division, where Washington has the most wins and the highest winning percentage, by 0.014 percent.
The joke, a play on one of the (many) tweets from the outgoing president in the chaotic days after the election, found widespread approval on Twitter, with thousands of retweets and likes. Apparently, however, the gag found no approval higher up in the organization.
At some point after the tweet emerged, it was deleted. (It’s unclear when the tweet disappeared; as best we can determine, it was “hours” later.)
The loose rule of thumb (as developed by me, pretty much right now) when it comes to deleted tweets is that the sooner the tweet is deleted, the more likely it happened because the author decided to delete it. The longer it takes to delete the tweet, the more likely it is that other organizational forces compelled the move.
Indeed, there’s a period of time past which deleting the tweet doesn’t really matter, because too many have seen it to even begin to unring the bell. It actually makes it a bigger deal to delete the tweet hours after the tweet emerged, because people will start to wonder who made the decision, how the decision came to be, and (in this case) whether any local pressure from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue contributed to the move.
For example, this story wouldn’t have been written about the tweet itself. The fact that the tweet was deleted made it something that was deemed to be objectively interesting.