Library of Congress to Stop Collecting Every Public Tweet

As of Dec. 31, 2017
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2017 6:29 PM CST
Your 2018 Tweets Won't Have a Home at Library of Congress
This Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, photo shows a Twitter sign outside of the company's headquarters in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Your brilliant tweets will no longer be archived for posterity, at least not by the Library of Congress. On Tuesday it announced a change to its policy of collecting every publicly posted tweet. It reached an agreement to do so with Twitter in 2010, and per a white paper, that agreement allowed it to first acquire every tweet from Twitter's 2006 inception onward. But "as the twelfth year of Twitter draws to a close, the Library has decided to change its collection strategy." As of December 31, 2017, it will only "very selective[ly]" acquire tweets, and it will generally take those that are "thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy."

The white paper notes that Twitter's evolution is responsible for the change in part: The volume of tweets is so much higher than it was at the time of the 2010 agreement; the Library only archives text, which has limited value now that so much of Twitter involves photos, videos, and links; and Twitter is allowing longer tweets. And the change will better jibe with what the Library does, which is not "collect comprehensively." It explains that "given the unknown direction of social media when the gift was first planned, the Library made an exception for public tweets. With social media now established, the Library is bringing its collecting practice more in line with its collection policies." (Here's a 2010 view on why the Library's move was a smart one.)

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