In 2010, the Library of Congress began archiving every public tweet tweeted on Twitter. It even retroactively acquired tweets tweeted all the way back through 2006, when Twitter first started. But sadly, the Library of Congress will cease archiving every tweet tweeted on Dec. 31, 2017.
The Library announced yesterday that it will no longer save every public tweet to their archives. The much larger volume of tweets tweeted today, versus in 2010 when it started the project, as well as Twitter’s decision to double the character limit from 140 to 280, were cited as reasons why. Also, according to Gizmodo, it’s because tweets are trash now.
No need to save every tweet tweeted
Though the Library is proud of its comprehensive collection of tweets from the first 12 years of Twitter, it’s supposedly “completely unnecessary” for it to continue. As such, starting on Jan. 1, the Library will be more selective about what tweets to preserve. This decision and more were explained in a whitepaper.
Accordingly, “Generally, the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, and themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy.”
In other words, all of President Donald Trump’s and all of Khloe Kardashian’s tweets will most likely be preserved, but the autotweets that come when you get a new fan on OnlyFans or the little note you share when you’re about to hop on cam will likely not.
— Anna Bell Peaks (@AnnaBellPeaksXX) December 27, 2017
Why should we care?
I get it. Not every tweet is going to change the world, mine/@ynot_cam’s included. I find this frustrating though.
Not only do I actually want to know when you get a new fan on OnlyFans – as a writer needing to know what’s going on in the industry, these notifications give me an idea of how popular a platform is – this sort of selective archiving is a value judgement that will likely continue to foster sex work and sex worker discrimination.
I want to vote in my own poll, but I cannot! My vote is "nothing" though, nothing at all haha (I'm deliiiiirioussssssss)
— YNOT Cam (@YNOT_Cam) December 21, 2017
Consider: Research could be done to determine the ebbs and flows of demand for various services via, say, OnlyFans engagement.
If however all of a sudden there’s less of an archive, well, work that points to the significance of interactions between sex workers and civilians can’t be done. Or at least, it can’t be done accurately via tweet archive. Consequently, people can continue down the path of dismissing these sorts of human interactions as inconsequential.
That’s not a good thing.
I'll be on cam tonight, an hour after turning 27. 😊 (1 AM my time, 4 PM Pacific)
Hope to see some of my MFC friends who can't make it tomorrow. And the others too! 💙
— Lily (@LilyMarieMFC) December 27, 2017
The archive is already trash
It’s worth pointing out that the Library only archived text. The fact that many tweets now contain images, videos or links means a text-only collection is increasingly incomplete, selective archiving or not. As such, my point about OnlyFans doesn’t even actually matter.
“The Library generally does not collect comprehensively,” was stated in press material. “With social media now established, the Library is bringing its collecting practice more in line with its collection policies.”
In addition to indicating that Twitter is garbage, Gizmodo also noted that future historians will not get to dig into the archive currently being held anytime soon. The tweets are embargoed for a still-undetermined period of time — but Library representatives still see their collection effort as something that will prove invaluable to the people of tomorrow.
Well then… I’m only left to wonder, are your random musings really any more or less significant than Khloe Kardashian’s? Based on engagement alone, probably. But privileging who and what is considered culturally and socially significant underscores this decision – and that’s important to everyone.
Or, at least it should be.
— Khloé (@khloekardashian) December 27, 2017
Erika is a sex positive people watcher (and writer). Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.