Twitter Reverses Course on Archiving Politicians' Tweets

Published: January 8, 2016 10:05 PM /


WAM Twitter

Last year, Twitter had completely cracked down on the practice of archiving politicians' deleted tweets. Organizations behind Politwoops, a tool that archives politicians' tweets, had their access to Twitter's APIs cut off. While Politwoops and similar tools were considered an important way to hold politician's accountable, Twitter considered it a violation of privacy to archive something that was stated by a public figure for all the world to see.

However, Twitter has had a change of heart on this matter. A recent post on the official Twitter blog states that Twitter has reached an agreement with The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, the organizations behind Politwoops. As a result, politicians will once again be held accountable for public statements they make on Twitter. The return of Politwoops was foreshadowed in October, when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey briefly mentioned Politwoops while describing Twitter's responsibility concerning government transparency:

We have a responsibility to have an open dialogue with you to make sure we are serving you in the best way. We have a responsibility to continue to empower organizations that bring more transparency to public dialogue, such as Politwoops. We need to make sure we are serving all these organizations and developers in the best way, because that is what will make Twitter great. We need to listen, we need to learn, and we need to have this conversation with you. We want to start that today.

Jenn Topper, communications director for The Sunlight Foundation, commented on the matter, saying, "Politwoops is an important tool for holding our public officials, including candidates and elected or appointed public officials, accountable for the statements they make, and we’re glad that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with Twitter to bring it back online both in the US and internationally."

Arjan El Fassed, director of The Open State Foundation also commented, stating, "This agreement is great news for those who believe that the world needs more transparency. Our next step is now to continue and expand our work to enable the public to hold public officials accountable for their public statements."

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