Twitter's archive doesn't have alt text - but Mastodon's does!


Because I don't trust Alan, the Hyperprat who now runs Twitter, I decided to download my Twitter archive before setting my account to dormant.

About a decade ago, I wrote about how the Twitter archive works and where it is deficient. Things have got better, but there are still annoying limitations.

For example, Hannah Kolbeck - founder of the Alt Text Reminder Bot recently pointed out that there's no alt text in the archives.

Here's a snippet of Twitter's JSON for an image I posted:

"media" : [
   {
      "expanded_url" : "https://twitter.com/edent/status/1579574033720705025/photo/1",
      "indices" : [
        "66",
        "89"
      ],
      "url" : "https://t.co/J1hr0ZfbTl",
      "media_url" : "http://pbs.twimg.com/media/FevGM32XEAA0FX2.jpg",
      "id_str" : "1579574018776174592",
      "id" : "1579574018776174592",
      "media_url_https" : "https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FevGM32XEAA0FX2.jpg",
      "sizes" : {
           "small" : {
                "w" : "680",
                "h" : "510",
                "resize" : "fit"
              },
              "medium" : {
                "w" : "1200",
                "h" : "900",
                "resize" : "fit"
              },
              "thumb" : {
                "w" : "150",
                "h" : "150",
                "resize" : "crop"
              },
              "large" : {
                "w" : "1236",
                "h" : "927",
                "resize" : "fit"
              }
       },
       "type" : "photo",
       "display_url" : "pic.twitter.com/J1hr0ZfbTl"
     }
],

Lots of different media sizing options, but no room for accessibility.

By comparison, the Mastodon social network gives you the alt text. Here's a snippet of Mastodon's JSON for the same image which was cross-posted:

"attachment": [
   {
     "type": "Document",
     "mediaType": "image/jpeg",
     "url": "/media_attachments/files/109/145/933/102/890/212/original/84ae501e39f45091.jpg",
     "name": "A sign for priority seating. The pregnant person's face has been replaced by 😍. The person holding a baby has a face of 😫. The elderly person with a cane has 🥴.",
     "blurhash": "UhKdk{0LRit6-:t6WCWC-oxaRmWBozt7xaa|",
     "width": 1236,
     "height": 927
   }
],

Mastodon is a friendlier alternative to Twitter and - mostly - gets accessibility right. There's still some work to do

You can fix Twitter's missing alt text using Hannah's Alt Text Archive Tool. That'll get you a JSON file full of your alt text, which you can use to recreate your archive.

Look, it's obvious that Alan doesn't give a flying fuck about accessibility, so I don't expect this to change any time soon.

Instead, people should do what they did when MySpace went to shit; move to a different platform.

Join Mastodon today!


2 thoughts on “Twitter's archive doesn't have alt text - but Mastodon's does!

  1. @Edent Hmm, I wonder. Is alt text covered under GDPR if it's personal to my posts? Does this constitute a failure to provide an adequate response to a subject access request?Not that it seems the elongated muskrat cares about either.

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