Library of Congress to End Wide-Ranging Twitter Archiving

Library of Congress to End Wide-Ranging Twitter Archiving

While it will continue to preserve the the archive of tweets from 2006 to 2010, it will soon only collect posts on a "very selective basis".

But the news site PoliticusUSA appeared to welcome the decision, tweeting that the library "would be no longer be wasting its resources by trying to archive every single public post published on Twitter". Since then, the Library has continued to receive most tweets from Twitter - missing are images, videos and any linked content.

"In April, 2010, the Library of Congress and Twitter signed an agreement providing the Library the public tweet text from the company's inception through the date of the agreement, an archive of tweets from 2006 through April 2010".

The US Library of Congress has scaled back plans to archive every message ever sent on Twitter, sparking debate on the importance of social media in historical records. Instead, starting on January 1, the Library will be more selective about what tweets to preserve, a decision it explained in a white paper.

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. "Generally, the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy", the library said.


The Library of Congress will continue to archive certain tweets after January 1, but will focus on posts that are "thematic and event-based", including tweets concerning political elections, public policy matters or other issues of nation interest, it said in a statement. The institution is also working with Twitter on how to handle public tweets that were later deleted.

The Library further mentioned in its white paper that it will focus its efforts on preserving the Twitter collection for future generations. "Given the unknown direction of social media when the gift was first planned, the Library made an exception for public tweets".

"Tweets now are often more visual than textual, limiting the value of text-only collecting", the institution said.

More information is available in the attached white paper.

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