Update on the Twitter Archive at the Library of Congress

In 2010, the Library of Congress announced an exciting and groundbreaking acquisition—a gift from Twitter of the entire archive of public tweet text beginning with the first tweets of 2006 through 2010, and continuing with all public tweet text going forward. The Library took this step for the same reason it collects other materials – to acquire and preserve a record of knowledge and creativity for Congress and the American people. The initiative was bold and celebrated among research communities.

In the years since, the social media landscape has changed significantly, with new platforms, an explosion in use, terms of service and functionality shifting frequently and lessons learned about privacy and other concerns.

The Library now has a secure collection of tweet text, documenting the first 12 years (2006-2017) of this dynamic communications channel—its emergence, its applications and its evolution.

Today, we announce a change in collections practice for Twitter. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the Library will acquire tweets on a selective basis—similar to our collections of web sites.

The Library regularly reviews its collections practices to account for environmental shifts, diversity of collections and topics, cost effectiveness, use of collections and other factors. This change results from such a review.

More information is available in the attached white paper.

Some important details:

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

Attached is a white paper summarizing today’s announcement, as well as the original gift agreement with Twitter for reference.

Blog post: “Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive,” April 14, 2010
Blog post: “The Library and Twitter: An FAQ,” April 28, 2010
Blog post: “Update on the Twitter Archive at the Library of Congress,” Jan. 4, 2013

8 Comments

  1. GoX
    December 26, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Not only Twiter. Most social media webs are rubbish. A huge waste of time, resources and productivity.

  2. Ari Mishkin
    December 26, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    The president’s tweets are official statements, as stated by the previous press secretary and should be preserved in their entirety. Their horrible, rotten entirety!

  3. Homer Worthington
    December 26, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Will you at least be keeping up with all government officials?

  4. John Sayers
    December 26, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Thanks for your comment. The National Archives has jurisdiction over the records of U.S. federal government officials.

  5. Phillip Long
    December 26, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Tweets from public officials should be public record, not selectively chosen introducing the potential for bias, unconscious or not. If public officials choose to communicate their views via Twitter, it should be kept in their entirety.

    This is a loss for historians, the public, and nation. You should reconsider this poorly thought out policy.

  6. Paul Smith
    December 27, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    This is very sad. As a daily twitter user I had the hope that historian will see my very important tweets in a hundred years and publish about them.

    Is there an opt-in? Would love to be archived.

    Thanks and regards
    Paul Smith

  7. Donna Olovson
    December 31, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Any Tweets by publicly elected officials, at the very least, should be preserved by the Library of Congress. Twitter should be commended for sharing the information.

  8. Anita Weber
    January 8, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Anything tweeted from official government twitter accounts is a government record and under the purview of NARA. Tweets emanating from private accounts such as #realdonaldtrump (or whatever the hash tag is for the private account the president uses) are private and should be included in the Twitter archives.

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