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Library of Congress Will Stop Saving Every Public Tweet

by Countable | 12.29.17

What’s the story?

On January 1, 2018, the Library of Congress will no longer archive every public tweet. Rather, the Library said it "will acquire tweets on a selective basis—similar to our collections of web sites."

"Generally the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy.”

Why does it matter?

In 2010, Twitter gifted the Library of Congress an archive of every public tweet, from the first tweets of 2006 through 2010. Since that time, the Library has been archiving tweets in order "to acquire and preserve a record of knowledge and creativity for Congress and the American people."

But "with social media now established, the Library is bringing its collecting practice more in line with its collection policies."

The Library noted that the move was also driven by practical concerns, including the volume of tweets currently sent, Twitter expanding the length of tweets from 140 to 280 characters, and that the Library only collected text—not any accompanying images, videos, or linked content.

The first tweet was on March 21, 2006, by Jack Dorsey, one of Twitter’s founders:

What do you think?

The Library of Congress said "the Twitter collection will remain embargoed until access issues can be resolved." Should they resolve them? Does the Library need to continue archiving every public tweet? Or do you trust the Library, and Twitter, to select which tweets merit saving? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts – and tweets – below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: temizyurek / iStockphoto)

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(35)
  • Calhoun
    12/29/2017
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    Weird that this came about under a president with a long history of embarrassing and inflammatory tweets, right?!?

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  • Sara
    12/29/2017
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    Since Twitter is one of the main ways that our current President communicates, every tweet should be archived, in order to keep a history of his communications.

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  • Bill
    12/29/2017
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    There has already been court cases determining Presidential tweets as official presidential acknowledgements. By LAW, we are suppose to preserve those kind of things.

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  • Rodney
    12/29/2017
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    The limited collection of items of such things as tweets, sets the stage for long term biasing of the historical perspective of the time. This limited window allows people to draw a narrow historical understanding of the time, such as the warped picture of history and culture as a result of the Victorian washing of history. What would happen if we only saved the lies of FOX News.

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  • Jennifer
    12/29/2017
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    Why does every liberal see Trump at the foundation of every Countable issue? Liberal thinking: Issue=Trump=Bad=Ulterior Motive=(eventually) Russia, Russia, Russia! First off, if you read the article—which you rarely do—the Library of Congress is talking about ALL public tweets, which—as the article points out—has made it that much more voluminous to retain tweets since Twitter increased character allowance from 240 to 280! By law all communications are kept by any president, so your seeing ulterior motives in this move vs sheer efficacy in collection methods, just shows how ill-informed you are. Your hate of Trump colors everything you do and say! Libs, it must be so life-suckingly draining to see everything through the “I hate Trump and will do ANYTHING to thwart your success,” glasses that you wear.

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  • Azrael
    12/30/2017
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    Internet is forever Not worried about trump tweets They’re all being saved in many places

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  • Woodlander
    12/29/2017
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    Tweeter is a tool that provides unfiltered, unverified information out to millions of ignorant people that can be driven like sheep into allowing wrong behaviors, unjust views of the world, cyber bullying, and many more aberrations to look “normal” or “OK” ... just like every media outlet tweeter and it’s users need to be audited and they need to be held accountable for the consequences of improper use of it.

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  • Sue
    01/01/2018
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    Funny how the Library Of Congress is considering not collecting every tweet now that the sitting president uses Twitter as his official communication with the people of the United States. You have GOT to find a way to stop this man from shaping the government to suit his lifestyle, personal and political interests. The madness has to stop.

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  • Niki
    12/30/2017
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    Any tweets from any government officials must be preserved for the historical record. Although I can well understand that the current administration would wish that they could distance themselves from the tweeting, I want it all preserved. Let history judge.

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  • Arizonagirl81
    12/30/2017
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    I agree with Jennifer...You all need to read the ENTIRE paragraph before flying off the handle & jumping onto the ‘I hate Trump’ Bandwagon...or should I say BandTrain? This is about all PUBLIC tweets. Made by everyday Joe’s & Josephine’s. All government should be archived, just like always. Be calm & Polotic on—just read everything first!

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  • Mindful
    12/31/2017
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    Really!....every Tweet of POTUS is regarded as Presidential pronouncement, therefore deserving of archiving. Don’t you get it.

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  • Neal
    12/29/2017
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    I am ALMOST good with this. While there is a lot of good stuff that is worth archiving, most of the content (that I’ve seen, at least) is useless. The only problem that I can see is that “filtering” will take resources that we do not have... and I do not want the government to take this on.

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  • Lori
    01/01/2018
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    Trumps tweets should be saved since that’s his most common form of communication with the public.

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  • Ronda
    01/01/2018
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    I think that they should save everything. From a historical perspective it will be the everyday tweets that will tell the most about these times. Archeologists learn as much about a society from their garbage dumps as they do from the special stuff people tried to preserve. And some of the most interesting things to read in libraries and museums are the everyday letters that people sent to friends and family. Save all of it. You don’t know what future generations will find useful and fascinating.

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  • Darby
    01/01/2018
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    1. Any tweet by the president should be archived regardless. 2. Any public policy tweet should be archived. 3. Any tweets about new bills or laws. 4. Any new tweets about SCOTUS hearings or rulings should be archived. 5. Any National Security, Foreign Aid or Policy, or Cabinet meeting Tweets should be archived. Everything else does not need to be archived.

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  • Marylynn
    01/02/2018
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    I wish they'd take away the Liar in Chief's mobile device, that way there wouldn't be any need to worry about saving his tweets, for the most part they're all a bunch of made up fake news that the Liar in Chief is fond of spreading. He's not the least bit presidential, he's a media whore who loves hearing and seeing what every news outlet is saying about him.

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  • Ochoninja
    01/02/2018
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    Good idea to get rid of things not pertaining to timely events

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  • Taimur
    12/31/2017
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    All of trumps tweets need to be preserved by the library of Congress.

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  • Ted
    01/03/2018
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    Every outrageous, insulting, bully tweet should be archived. Let our future generation see what kind of person 45 really is. Things are taken how they are read. I try to have an open mind and it’s impossible. I don’t recall a single tweet that has been informative. I say archive it so we know why we went to war. What led us there. It’s all insulting and, again, nothing informative. Or don’t archive, stop covering him. Selectively show the accomplishments. Bet this nonsense would stop.

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  • My
    12/29/2017
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    I firmly believe that the vast majority of tweets are a waste of electrons and electricity. Either save none or save all. Let historians sift through the chaff for the meaningful tweets. Present a complete picture of that particular social media or do not do it at all.

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