The Library of Congress will no longer archive all public tweets, a thing it’s been doing since 2010.
Starting January 1, 2018, the Library will modify its ongoing partnership with Twitter, which began in April of 2010 as a way to document the emergence of social media use.
After Dec. 31, the research library says it will only select specific tweets “on a very selective basis,” which will be embargoed until further notice. Going forward, the archived tweets “will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest,” such as public policy.
“The Twitter Archive may prove to be one of this generation’s most significant legacies to future generations,” the announcement says. “Future generations will learn much about this rich period in our history, the information flows, and social and political forces that help define the current generation.”
If you’re wondering why incoming tweets won’t be continuously archived anymore, the Library of Congress gave several reasons. These include the fact that its mission to document social media use for future generations to marvel at has been accomplished. Then there’s the issue that the Library can only archive text-based tweets, not ones with images, videos or linked content, which have become popular since the 2010 gift agreement. It also admits that there are just way too many tweets to keep saving at this point.
Arguably the most interesting reason for the decision: tweets are just too long to document now.
“Twitter is expanding the size of tweets beyond what was originally described at the beginning of effort,” the Library says. “The Library now has the first 12 years of public tweets.” As in, now that tweets have gone from 140 to 280 character limit, the logistics of archiving tweets with ease gets much harder for the Library.
Looks like your passionate Twitter threads won’t be making it into the Library of Congress after all.
While there is still no projected time for the release of the archives to the public, the Library is working on lifting the embargo with the help of all parties involved, including Twitter.