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Library of Congress Says It Will No Longer Archive Every Public Tweet

28 December 2017

Now that it has 12 years of tweets in the collection, the library suggested that it had largely fulfilled its original goal of documenting the rise and evolution of Twitter. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the Library will acquire tweets on a selective basis-similar to our collections of web sites.

"Three priorities have guided the Library's work to provide access to the Twitter collection: respect the intent of the producers of the content; honor donor (Twitter) access requirements; and manage taxpayer-provided resources wisely", it explained. With help from Twitter itself, the institution acquired all public tweet text (including by countless members of Congress and several USA presidents) published between 2006 and 2010 and a promise to do the same in the years to come.

The library is now only interested in tweets with "event-based" merit or tweets related to "themes of ongoing national interest".

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In their white paper, the Library of Congress claimed that several factors contributed to their decision to end the mass archiving.

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 library in 2010 began its tweet archive after receiving a "gift" from Twitter of the full database of public tweets dating from the first tweet in 2006, but has not determined when or how to make this public. "With social media now established, the Library is bringing its collecting practice more in line with its collection policies". But the Library of Congress will stop archiving every tweet on December 31, 2017. They even went out of their way in preserving everyone's Tweets for future generations. The institution is also working with Twitter on how to handle public tweets that were later deleted. Throughout its history, the Library has seized opportunities to collect snapshots of unique moments in human history and preserve them for future generations. "Future generations will learn much about this rich period in our history, the information flows, and social and political forces that help define the current generation".

Library of Congress Says It Will No Longer Archive Every Public Tweet