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Twitter has sent a cease and desist to PostGhost for breaking Twitter’s terms of service. As a result, PostGhost will no longer archive tweets made by public figures. This situation is somewhat similar to Twitter’s treatment of Politwoops, a tool which archives the tweets of politicians. For awhile, Twitter prevented Politwoops from archiving tweets on the grounds of privacy. Twitter later decided that archiving deleted tweets was an important way to hold politicians accountable and reversed its decision.

Twitter’s eventual approval of Politwoops may have caused PostGhost to think it was in the clear as well. However, there is a difference between the two that may have led Twitter to come to a different decision in this case. Poltiwoops only archives the tweets of politicians, while PostGhost archives the tweets of other public figures as well, including celebrities and journalists. PostGhost argues that its archive served the public interest, because non-politicians can still have a major influence on political decisions.

PostGhost used the recent example of the Brexit vote, which was decided by a margin of about one million votes. Three tweets arguing for and against the Brexit are presented, which together reached 17 million followers. All three tweets were later deleted. The company argues that public figures which have such an enormous reach should be held accountable for their statements, even if they later regret them.

PostGhost argues that it is not interested in archiving tweets made by the general public. Only verified accounts with tens of thousands of followers were archived. Verified accounts make up about 0.05% of all Twitter users, and the follower requirement means only about half of those accounts were archived by PostGhost. They also believe that being verified is evidence that a person is a public figure since Twitter is very selective of who is verified and specifically states verification is not for the general public.

PostGhost finishes its statement by comparing itself to Poltiwoops, and stating that it serves a similar function to hold powerful individuals accountable for their public statements. It also states an interest in continuing dialogue with Twitter in order to reach an agreement.

Should Twitter allow archiving the tweets of public figures? Leave your comments below.

Max Michael

Senior Writer

I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.