Published: Thu, December 28, 2017
Industry | By Johnnie Johnson

The Library of Congress Will No Longer Archive Every Tweet

The Library of Congress Will No Longer Archive Every Tweet

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. The Library says it will continue to preserve and secure its collection of tweet text, and work with Twitter to acquire tweets selectively. The initiative was bold and celebrated among research communities.

For instance, as laid out in the Library of Congress' white paper explaining the decision, collecting all the tweets has become a more demanding task, thanks to expanded tweet sizes, and has become less worthwhile, because only the text is being collected.

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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. 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". The collection of tweets will still proceed until December 31, 2017, but there will be heavily curated. "The Library will also engage with Twitter to resolve issues associated with managing transactions that generate deletions of tweets, and user access issues".

Evolving and expanding social media has spurred the Library of Congress to limit its archiving of tweets. The explanations given by the Library of Congress, however, are much more straightforward and general than that. 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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"With social media now established, the Library is bringing its collecting practice more in line with its collection policies", it said in the document. "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". These snapshots of particular moments in history often give voice to history's silent masses: "ordinary people". "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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