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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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