All tweets given to US government, archived and searchable, forever.

By | April 18, 2010

“Twitter, based in San Francisco, is a free Web service with 58 million users that lets people send 140- character messages, called “tweets,” to multiple followers.” – bloomberg

Twitter Donates Entire Tweet Archive to Library of Congress

Twitter is donating its digital archive of public tweets to the Library of Congress. Twitter is a leading social networking service that enables users to send and receive tweets, which consist of web messages of up to 140 characters.

Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets per day from people around the world. The Library will receive all public tweets-which number in the billions-from the 2006 inception of the service to the present.

“The Twitter digital archive has extraordinary potential for research into our contemporary way of life,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “This information provides detailed evidence about how technology based social networks form and evolve over time. The collection also documents a remarkable range of social trends. Anyone who wants to understand how an ever-broadening public is using social media to engage in an ongoing debate regarding social and cultural issues will have need of this material.”

Billington added: “The Library looks at this as an opportunity to add new kinds of information without subtracting from our responsibility to manage our overall collection. Working with the Twitter archive will also help the Library extend its capability to provide stewardship for very large sets of born-digital materials.”

In making the donation, Greg Pass, Twitter’s vice president of engineering, said: “We are pleased and proud to make this collection available for the benefit of the American people. I am very grateful that Dr. Billington and the Library recognize the value of this information. It is something new, but it tells an amazing story that needs to be remembered.” Twitter’s own take on the donation is posted on their blog http://blog.twitter.com/2010/04/tweet-preservation.html

… The Library has been collecting materials from the web since it began harvesting congressional and presidential campaign websites in 2000. Today the Library holds more than 167 terabytes of web-based information, including legal blogs, websites of candidates for national office and websites of Members of Congress. In addition, the Library leads the congressionally mandated National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program www.digitalpreservation.gov, which is pursuing a national strategy to collect, preserve and make available significant digital content, especially information that is created in digital form only, for current and future generations. …

via Twitter Archive to Library of Congress – The Library Today (Library of Congress).

Nice to know my blog post titles will be preserved for all time. Everything I post goes out on Twitter with a link back to this blog for the full article. Sounds to me like Twitter also gave away the “tiny percentage” of private stuff?

… Since Twitter began, billions of tweets have been created. Today, fifty-five million tweets a day are sent to Twitter and that number is climbing sharply. A tiny percentage of accounts are protected but most of these tweets are created with the intent that they will be publicly available. Over the years, tweets have become part of significant global events around the world—from historic elections to devastating disasters.

It is our pleasure to donate access to the entire archive of public Tweets to the Library of Congress for preservation and research. It’s very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history. It should be noted that there are some specifics regarding this arrangement. Only after a six-month delay can the Tweets be used for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation. … – link

You’d think Evan would have learned from  being hacked that people value privacy.  Don’t people use Twitter to transmit bank account information–see http://twitter.com/bofa_help, they say no account numbers, but people don’t read. Some WILL transmit bank account numbers–, drivers licenses, addresses, phone numbers, and other data which can be used for identity theft? There will also be security codes and proprietary company data.

I think someone will sue.  Perhaps a transgendered mayoral candidate, or Newt Gingrich, or Britney Spears, or Tony La Russa, or TechRadium,  or Oneok.

Some comments I’ve read suggest that people think powerful government forces made Twitter “an offer they could not refuse” and this was the best way Williams and Pass could see to make it clear to everyone that they are not able to prevent government access to the entire database.

They may have thought, “fine, if our data is not private, then by god it is really going to not be private.” That way, on into the future Twitter data won’t be exploitable by just a power minority.

Is Twitter selling you out or “sticking it to the Man”?  If neither, then why not have the Library of Congress hold the data for 50 to 100 years before ANYONE could have access to it?

U.S. Sued by Privacy Group Over Use of Facebook, Twitter Data

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said it sued the Justice Department and other U.S. agencies to get information about their policies for using social networks including Facebook and Twitter in investigations, data collection and surveillance.

The civil rights group said in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in San Francisco that the government has used social-networking sites in conducting investigations and hasn’t clarified the scope of that use or whether there are any restrictions or oversight to prevent abuses.

The EFF said in its complaint that it is seeking the information to “help inform Congress and the public about the effect of such uses and purposes on citizens’ privacy rights and associated legal protections.”

It cited news articles that reported police searching Facebook photos for evidence of underage drinking and an FBI search of an individual’s home after the person sent messages on Twitter during the G-20 Summit notifying protesters of police movements. – bloomberg

You can search the Library of Congress here. (A search for “Xenophilius” currently yields zero results.)

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