Monday, 17 December, 2018

The Library of Congress to stop archiving all tweets from 2018

Main reading room at the Library of Congress Washington D.C Main reading room at the Library of Congress Washington D.C. Credit The Library of Congress
Stacy Houston | 28 December, 2017, 01:53

Twitter has come a long way since one of its founders, Jack Dorsey, posted the first tweet on March 21, 2006.

Evolving and expanding social media has spurred the Library of Congress to limit its archiving of tweets. Because tweets are trash now.

It did not reveal what criteria it would use to select tweets, but said it will "focus its efforts on preserving the Twitter collection for future generations". But starting on the first of January, the archiving will become selective; only tweets that are deemed newsworthy will be kept. For instance, President Trump's tweets are nearly certainly still going to be saved for future generations.

Jennifer Grygiel, communications professor at Syracuse University, said the move was disappointing from an institution "which is perceived to be the greatest library and archive in our country".

But as anyone who's been following along can attest, Twitter and the way it's used has changed since then.

In addition, the Library's normal role is as a curator, preserving information that's thought to be most significant or valuable.

The Library will work with Twitter to acquire tweets on a selective basis.

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The Library says it plans to continue to preserve and secure its collection of tweet text.

Twitter has since exploded in size (the company went public in November 2013) and so the volume of so-called tweet text flooding into the library's digital archives was growing exponentially, eventually becoming too much. "With social media now established, the Library is bringing its collecting practice more in line with its collection policies".

So when will future historians get to dig into the vast Twitter archive now being held by the U.S. government?

The news sparked a reaction on Twitter itself, with some people speculating that the quality or content of tweets over time played a role.

Moreover, the Library of Congress only takes text-based tweets, so posts like President Trump's recent retweet of a bloodied CNN logo splattered on his shoe don't make the cut.

The intent has been to preserve the history of United States social media and how it's evolved. The Library may even get to collect the tweet that starts a nuclear war.

The part left unstated? Wouldn't that be something.

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