The Library of Congress to stop archiving all tweets from 2018

The Library of Congress to stop archiving all tweets from 2018

The Library of Congress said on Tuesday that it will no longer archive every public tweet.

The said social media site had come a long way since its birth.

Hurry, you have just a few more days to ensure a spot for your tweets in the collections of the Library of Congress. It also minimized the gap between the famous and anonymous. Part of the reasoning is the sheer volume of data; the number of tweets is up, and their possible length has been doubled recently.

The most-liked tweet of 2017 was a quotation about unity posted by former president Barack Obama in the wake of the white supremacist violence this summer in Charlottesville, Virginia. The said tweet has gained more than four million likes. And the most retweeted message was a plea from a teenager on a quest for a year's worth of free chicken nuggets.

The decision is the result of the library's continued evaluation of its practices. One of them is its difficulty in maintaining the archive.

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This won't really change anything as far as your ability to peruse a massive, comprehensive Twitter archive, to be clear, because that ability has never materialized. As society turns to social media as a primary method of communication and creative expression, social media is supplementing, and in some cases supplanting, letters, journals, serial publications and other sources routinely collected by research libraries.

"Given the unknown direction of social media when the gift was first planned, the Library made an exception for public tweets", it explains in the white paper. In 2010, Twitter recorded half a billion tweets posted every 14 days.

That doesn't mean the librarians think that the preservation of every tweet for more than a decade wasn't valuable. In a press release, the library said Tuesday that "the nature of Twitter has changed" and cited Twitter's new 280-character limit, an increased frequency of tweeting, and the rise of non-text tweets to conclude that almost 12 years of tweets - from Twitter's inception in 2006 until the end of 2017 - is more than enough for future scholars to pore through. In the meantime, the LOC still hasn't decided how best to provide the public with access to all the tweets it now has.

The Library of Congress is going to start being more selective about which tweets it decides to save in its archives.

Such complications have plagued public access to the archive, too, which is limited while the library works to find a cost-effective and sustainable way to open the archive to the public. The institution is also working with Twitter on how to handle public tweets that were later deleted.

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