Twitter this week is rolling out a new search function that will make every single tweet since the first one, in March of 2006, accessible to anyone.
Twitter has used a real-time index that holds and sifts through about a weeks' worth of recent tweets, putting an emphasis on recency in its search results. But, the company said, it has always had the goal of letting people search through every tweet ever published -- hundreds of billions of them, from eight and a half years of tweeting -- allowing the Twitterverse to relive in-the-moment reactions to significant zeitgeists, from past sports seasons to hashtagged conversations about Ferguson, the 2011 Japan earthquake or the 2012 elections.
In order to achieve this, it had to build an index that is more than 100 times larger than the real-time index, with several billion tweets being added each week.
The index builds off earlier iterations, starting with a "small" historical index of approximately 2 billion top tweets, which was created in 2012. In 2013, that was expanded to tens of billions, and this year was scaled up to full size, with single days' worth of tweets being added in batches.
History seekers can use advanced search to narrow to a particular time frame. For now, archival search results will show up in the "All" tab on the site and mobile app, but over time, Twitter intends to tailor search to making digging through old material easier.
Rest assured, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed that previously deleted tweets are not indexed and cannot be turned up in search.