The Library of Congress is set to stop archiving all Twitter posts at the end of the month.
From December 31, the Library of Congress will no longer archive all posts but will still collect tweets deemed historically significant.
“In April, 2010, the Library of Congress and Twitter signed an agreement providing the Library the public tweet text from the company’s inception through the date of the agreement, an archive of tweets from 2006 through April 2010. Additionally, Twitter agreed to provide tweets on an ongoing basis under the same terms,” the Library of Congress declared in a white paper. “The Library saw an opportunity to document the emergence of online social media for future generations.”
“As the twelfth year of Twitter draws to a close, the Library has decided to change its collection strategy for receipt of tweets on December 31, 2017. After this time, the Library will continue to acquire tweets but will do so on a very selective basis under the overall guidance provided in the Library’s Collections Policy Statements and associated documents,” they explained. “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 continuously reviews its ongoing acquisitions, whether subscriptions to newspapers or the receipt of tweets via a gift,” the Library proclaimed. “As a result of the review, the Library has determined that its initial Twitter collection will consist of a twelve-year snapshot of the beginning of one of social media’s most important and transformative communication tools. Subsequent selective tweet collecting may continue in addition to the twelve-year snapshot.”
In their white paper, the Library of Congress claimed that several factors contributed to their decision to end the mass archiving.
“The nature of Twitter has changed over time,” they argued, adding that, “The volume of tweets and related transactions has evolved and increased dramatically since the initial agreement was signed,” and that “The Library only receives text. It does not receive images, videos or linked content. Tweets now are often more visual than textual, limiting the value of text-only collecting.”
The Library of Congress also noted Twitter’s increased character limit as a factor: “Twitter is expanding the size of tweets beyond what was originally described at the beginning of effort.”