The Library of Congress won't be archiving every public tweet anymore

  • The Library of Congress will stop recording every public tweet after December 31, 2017.
  • It will, however, record tweets “on a very selective basis.”
  • The Library’s decision was made because its original agreement doesn’t reflect all the ways Twitter has evolved since 2010.

After December 31, 2017, The Library of Congress will no longer record every public tweet, as it has done for the past 12 years.

Instead, “the Library will continue to acquire tweets but will do so on a very selective basis.”

The Library of Congress originally struck an agreement with Twitter in April 2010 to preserve an archive of every tweet made in the first four years of Twitter, from 2006 to 2010.

But Twitter has evolved, not just in size, but in how it uses multimedia. For instance, the Library of Congress only records the text in every tweet; images, videos, GIFs, and links are all left out. In addition, tweets can also be much longer now (Twitter raised the character limit from 140 to 280 this year), which means there’s more data for the Library to collect. With Twitter wrapping up its 12th year, the Library decided it was time to review its current Twitter collection.

In the end, the Library decided to keep a full “snapshot” of the first 12 years of Twitter – everything it had collected from 2006 to 2017 – with the option to continue “subsequent selective tweet collecting” for the foreseeable future.

“Generally, the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy,” the Library of Congress wrote in a white paper addressing the decision.

To learn more about the decision, you can read the Library’s white paper right here.

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