Library of Congress will no longer archive every tweet

Library of Congress will no longer archive every tweet

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.

"Effective January 1, 2018, the Library will acquire tweets on a selective basis-similar to our collections of web sites", the library's communications director Gayle Osterberg said in a blog post. Twitter has changed - more picture- and video-based communication (LOC only collects text) and the rollout of 280 character tweets are just two examples of what's evolved over the past 12 years.

For years, it's been public knowledge that the Library of Congress has been stockpiling every single tweet that millions of Twitter users have sent, putting together a comprehensive record of the evolution of the social media platform.

From December 31, the Library of Congress will no longer archive all posts but will still collect tweets deemed historically significant.

Deciding what pieces of the internet to archive has been an ongoing project and debate for the Library of Congress.

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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. Even back then, creating this archive was an vast task, and as Twitter has grown and changed, it became more and more unfeasible. It is the same policy the institution applies to websites, which have naturally exploded in number since they first appeared decades ago.

However, the Library of Congress said the "nature of Twitter" and the social media landscape has changed significantly and has therefore chose to change its collection strategy in the new year.

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

The Twitter collection will remain embargoed until access issues can be resolved in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.

The Library further mentioned in its white paper that it will focus its efforts on preserving the Twitter collection 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".

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