US Library of Congress backtracks on complete Twitter archive

28 December, 2017, 01:09 | Author: Juana Mckenzie
  • Library of Congress Says It Will No Longer Archive Every Public Tweet

"The nature of Twitter has changed over time", they argued, adding that, "The volume of tweets and related transactions has evolved and increased dramatically since the initial agreement was signed", and that "The Library only receives text". Instead, starting on January 1, the Library will be more selective about what tweets to preserve, a decision it explained in a white paper.

Now that's about the change. Starting on December 31, the Library of Congress will continue to archive tweets, but not every one. Even back then, creating this archive was an enormous task, and as Twitter has grown and changed, it became more and more unfeasible.

"Now the Library of Congress won't archive every Tweet".

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More information is available in the attached white paper. The initiative was bold and celebrated among research communities.

The Library of Congress revealed in a blog post that its decision to be selective was due to the evolution of the social media landscape, with new platforms, an explosion in use, terms of service and functionality shifting frequently and lessons learned about privacy and other concerns.

The Library of Congress also noted that many tweets include photos and video and that it has only been collecting text, making some of its collection worthless. The collection as a whole will remain under embargo "until access issues can be resolved in a cost-effective and sustainable manner".

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For the last several years, the Library of Congress has archived almost every tweet ever made.

As the twelfth year of Twitter draws to a close, the Library has made a decision to change its collection strategy for receipt of tweets on December 31, 2017.

"With social media now established, the Library is bringing its collecting practice more in line with its collection policies", it said in the document. The institution is also working with Twitter on how to handle public tweets that were later deleted. These snapshots of particular moments in history often give voice to history's silent masses: "ordinary people".

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So when will future historians get to dig into the vast Twitter archive now being held by the USA government?

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