The Library of Congress Will No Longer Be Archiving All Public Tweets


If you want a guaranteed place in the historical record, tweet now or forever hold your peace. The archive itself spans a 12-year period that traces back to when Twitter first came online in 2006. We're looking at Twitter from a research and scholarship perspective as providing a reflection of everyday life as well as showing the development and impact of significant events. It's being amended now as the Library of Congress has confirmed that it will no longer archive every tweet posted on the network.

"The Library took this step for the same reason it collects other materials - to acquire and preserve a record of knowledge and creativity for Congress and the American people".

The library doesn't say how many tweets has in its collection now, but in 2013, it said it had already amassed 170 billion tweets, at a rate of half a billion tweets a day. The current collection of tweets still isn't available, however, "until access issues can be resolved in a cost-effective and sustainable manner", the Library says. The institution is also working with Twitter on how to handle public tweets that were later deleted.

Researchers and archivists were delighted when the archive was first announced. You really want ALL the tweets?

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In a white paper released on Tuesday, the Library of Congress indicated that the growing volume of tweets had become too overwhelming to store.

So what tweets will be archived going forward?

Unfortunately, the Library of Congress has only been collecting the text from tweets, so none of your amusing GIFs, image-based memes or videos will have been preserved through the archive.

The library's initial decision to collect everything that's public was an attempt to create a "snapshot" of the early stages of "one of social media's most important and transformative communication tools".