Library of Congress will no longer archive all tweets

Joy Montgomery
December 28, 2017

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 decision, the result of a continuing evaluation of its practices, was driven by a number of factors, from the difficulty of maintaining the collection to the waning need for a comprehensive archive, the library said. "After this time, the Library will continue to acquire tweets but will do so on a very selective basis". "It does not receive images, videos or linked content. Tweets now are often more visual than textual, limiting the value of text-only collecting".

Twitter referred to a blog post published by the Library of Congress about their partnership when reached for comment.

Now that it has 12 years of tweets in the collection, the library suggested that it had largely fulfilled its original goal of documenting the rise and evolution of Twitter. It cited the much larger volume of tweets generated now, as well as Twitter's decision to double the character limit from 140 to 280.

US Library of Congress Ends Twitter Archiving Project

The LOC did not offer specific details regarding the selection of the tweets for the archive moving forward. In the future, the institution will narrow its focus to collecting tweets tied to major historical events such as elections or national matters of public policy.

The Twitter collection will remain embargoed until access issues can be resolved in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. "There is no projected timetable for providing public access at this time". So that means for now we can not see this classless, albeit hilarious original Tweet by Donald Trump on September 11, 2013 which he has since deleted.

"The Twitter Archive may prove", it continues, "to be one of this generation's most significant legacies to future generations".

More information is available in the attached white paper.

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