Twitter Cracks Down on Archiving Politicians' Deleted Tweets

Published: August 27, 2015 9:38 PM /


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In a controversial move, Twitter has completely cracked-down on third-parties making use of the Twitter APIs to archive politicians' deleted tweets. While this move may come as a shock to some people, it's actually in accordance with Twitter's longstanding policy that developers making use of the API's must delete content that Twitter reports as deleted.

Back in May, Twitter had gone after Politwoops, an American based service that archived deleted tweets made by politicians. At the time there was some confusion as to why Politwoops was singled out when there are so many similar projects that do the same thing. It seems this was just a temporary oversight as Twitter has gone after another tweet archiving project. Over the weekend, the Open State Foundation received a notice that they were being denied access to Twitter's APIs, because their project violates Twitter's terms of service by archiving deleted tweets. Some are puzzled by the timing of this crackdown, as these archiving projects have been in violation of the terms of service for years without consequence, and Twitter has not explained why it has suddenly decided to shut down these projects.

This move by Twitter has drawn criticism from activist groups like the EFF. While this policy by Twitter exists to protect the privacy of its users, its questionable whether politicians making public statements, that were posted for the entire world to see, have any expectation of privacy regarding those statements. While the EFF acknowledges that Twitter is within its rights to run its business in this manner if they wish, they express disappointment that Twitter would shut down efforts to hold politicians accountable by archiving their statements. It is possible to keep Twitter's existing policy in place mostly unchanged to protect the privacy of ordinary users, but adding narrow exceptions allowing developers to archive tweets by politicians that are in the public interest, but for now Twitter insists on treating politicians like any other users.

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