Lots of folks have learned the hard way that their old, forgotten tweets still exist. Every one. In part that’s because Twitter in 2010 gifted the Library of Congress with every 140-character post beginning in 2006, and the federal archiver has received all of them since.
That’s about to change.
Director of Communications Gayle Osterberg posted on the Library of Congress blog today that, “Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the Library will acquire tweets on a selective basis — similar to our collections of web sites.”
The Library of Congress issued a white paper about the policy change (read it here). It says that going forward, “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.”
The LoC originally accepted the offer to archive tweets to “acquire and preserve a record of knowledge and creativity for Congress and the American people,” Osterberg wrote. “The Library now has a secure collection of tweet text, documenting the first 12 years (2006-2017) of this dynamic communications channel — its emergence, its applications, and its evolution.”
Seems that’s enough. In the years since the full Twitter archiving began, “the social media landscape has changed significantly,” she wrote, “with new platforms, an explosion in use, terms of service and functionality shifting frequently and lessons learned about privacy and other concerns.”
The change comes as the main research arm of the U.S. Congress reviewed “reviews its collections practices to account for environmental shifts, diversity of collections and topics, cost-effectiveness, use of collections and other factors. This change results from such a review.”