US Library of Congress to stop archiving all tweets | News | DW | 28.12.2017
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US Library of Congress to stop archiving all tweets

After years of storing every tweet ever sent, the US Library of Congress announced plans to end the practice by the end of 2017. Faced with Twitter's dramatic growth, the library will be selecting tweets for the archive.

The US Library of Congress said it would abandon its current practice of storing every tweet posted online and instead archive only posts relevant to specific topics. The topics would include elections, policy and other themes of "ongoing national interest."

"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.

The library, believed to be the biggest in the world, made arrangements with the Twitter company in 2010.  The social media platform shared their own archive with the Washington-based library, which covered tweets sent out between 2006 and 2010. The government-backed organization has since stored every new tweet sent over the network.

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However, the Library of Congress only archived text from the tweets, without pictures or videos.

History of Twitter to be preserved

In the latest statement, the Library said it decided to change its approach of storing tweets based on several reasons, including the dramatic growth of traffic on Twitter. Other reasons include longer maximum size of tweets and the increased number of posts sharing pictures and video clips. Another ground for the change is the fact that the Library very rarely engages in such comprehensive data collection.

Despite the change, the Library would keep its existing archive of the 12 years since Twitter first went online. The snapshot of social media history "may prove to be one of this generation's most significant legacies to future generations," they said.

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The Library's Twitter archive is not yet available to the public. The officials said several issues should be resolved before access is granted, including finding ways to "respect the intent of the producers of the content," honor Twitter's access requirements,  and "manage tax payer-provided resources wisely."

The US Library of Congress was founded in 1800 and has documented important chapters in American history ever since.

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