Library of Congress Blog

Does The Library Of Congress Save Every Tweet? Not Anymore — Here's Why Leon Neal  Getty Images News  Getty Images

Does The Library Of Congress Save Every Tweet? Not Anymore — Here's Why Leon Neal Getty Images News Getty Images

Beginning 1 January, The Library of Congress will "acquire tweets on a selective basis".

"The initiative was bold and celebrated among research communities", the blog post says.

Twitter has changed substantially since it first partnered with the country's oldest cultural institution, however, and the Library of Congress said it no longer sees a need for archiving each and every one of the throngs of public tweets posted daily.

The statement also noted that cost-effectiveness was a concern, which could help explain why they'll only be preserving tweets selectively going forward. "In 40 years, I want to take my granddaughter to the Library of Congress and show her the madness I dealt with as a journalist...make every tweet count". It even retroactively acquired all tweets dating back to 2006. According to the white paper, the tweets that do get saved will be more "event-based" or "thematic". "The Library will also engage with Twitter to resolve issues associated with managing transactions that generate deletions of tweets, and user access issues".

The Library of Congress just put some coal in our (virtual) stockings-and perhaps hoped we wouldn't notice because it's the week betwen Christmas and New Year's. The platform hosted about 500 million daily tweets in 2013, at which point the Library of Congress had already amassed an archive of roughly 170 billion tweets and counting.

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The new collection policy will go into effect on 31 December.

The library's initial decision to collect everything that's public was an attempt to create a "snapshot" of the early stages of "one of social media's most important and transformative communication tools".

The decision comes as Twitter continues to face flak over its vague policies in its battle to curb abuse, online harassment, trolls and illegal activity on its platform.

As the twelfth year of Twitter draws to a close, the Library has chose to change its collection strategy for receipt of tweets on December 31, 2017.

So when will future historians get to dig into the vast Twitter archive now being held by the United States government?

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