The Library of Congress Will No Longer Be Archiving All Public Tweets

The Library of Congress Will No Longer Be Archiving All Public Tweets

The Library of Congress Will No Longer Be Archiving All Public Tweets

Twitter has changed - more picture- and video-based communication (LOC only collects text) and the rollout of 280 character tweets are just two examples of what's evolved over the past 12 years. Instead, starting on January 1, the Library will be more selective about what tweets to preserve, a decision it explained in a white paper. "In 40 years, I want to take my granddaughter to the Library of Congress and show her the madness I dealt with as a journalist...make every tweet count". With help from Twitter itself, the institution acquired all public tweet text (including by countless members of Congress and several U.S. presidents) published between 2006 and 2010 and a promise to do the same in the years to come. The initiative was bold and celebrated among research communities.

However, the Library of Congress said the "nature of Twitter" and the social media landscape has changed significantly and has therefore chose to change its collection strategy in the new year.

The Library of Congress, for its part, released a statement which essentially explained it like this: We already have more than a decade's worth of tweets, social media has changed a lot since then, and we don't think we need a complete record going forward.

The archive "will remain embargoed until access issues can be resolved in a cost-effective and sustainable manner", Osterberg said.

Twitter has come a long way since one of its founders, Jack Dorsey, posted the first tweet on March 21, 2006.

"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 decision comes as Twitter continues to face flak over its vague policies in its battle to curb abuse, online harassment, trolls and illegal activity on its platform.

The library, which is believed to be the largest in the world with a mission of preserving important national and global cultural records, announced this week it would stop collecting the entire Twittersphere's tweets from January 2018. The institution is also working with Twitter on how to handle public tweets that were later deleted.

It also wrote: "Throughout its history, the Library has seized opportunities to collect snapshots of unique moments in human history and preserve them for future generations".

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

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