The Library of Congress will not archive any public tweet anymore, according to reports. The federal institution, since 2010, had been storing every single tweet posted on the microblogging platform, including the president's and even yours. 

Reports state that the federal library — starting from January 1, 2018 — will only acquire tweets "on a very selective basis." This means that the institution will not archive your every status update and opinion threads, the NPR reported.

Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show previews a pop-up library exhibiting President Trump's tweets at Union Station (Getty Images)

The Library of Congress began archiving public tweets way back when Twitter was launched in 2006.

The federal library said that it started archiving tweets "for the same reason it collects other materials — to acquire and preserve a record of knowledge and creativity for Congress and the American people." 

Visitors tour the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building (Getty Images)

However, with the number of tweets surging with every passing day and the varied ways in which Twitter is used these days, a collection of each tweet appears a daunting task.

 



"The volume of tweets and related transactions has evolved and increased dramatically since the initial agreement was signed," the library stated in a white paper, while announcing its decision to not archive every tweet anymore.

Library of Congress (Getty Images)

Although the latest figures of the library's tweets collection have not been revealed, the institution had already amassed nearly 170 billion tweets by 2013. 

Now with Twitter's decision to increase its character limit to 280 characters, the task of saving every public tweet is even more arduous. 

 



 "Given the unknown direction of social media when the gift was first planned, the Library made an exception for public tweets," it explains in the white paper. "With social media now established, the Library is bringing its collecting practice more in line with its collection policies."

A visitor tours the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building (Getty Images)

There is another issue with the archiving of the tweets, which is that Twitter does not give the library videos, images or linked content of the tweets. The federal library is just permitted to archive the text of the tweets.

 



"Tweets now are often more visual than textual, limiting the value of text-only collecting," the library says. It also added that the institution has still not figured out how to manage the deleted tweets, which are not the part of the library's archives.

The library said that even though it has decided to not archive every tweet, it will continue to preserve the tweets it has already archived. The institution, however, said that it has not yet figured out how to make the archive public for others to see.

The Library says in the paper that it continuously reviews its ongoing acquisitions, whether subscriptions to newspapers or the receipt of tweets via a gift.

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.

A visitor looks at the John Hay copy of the Gettysburg Address which is on display for six weeks in the 'Civil War in America' exhibition at the Library of Congress (Getty Images)

When the library had announced its decision to archive the tweets, many researchers and archivist appreciated the move. "This is an entirely new addition to the historical record, the second-by-second history of ordinary people," Fred R. Shapiro, associate librarian, and lecturer at the Yale Law School told The New York Times in 2010.

 



On access to the collection, the institution says it will focus its efforts on preserving the Twitter collection for future generations. Throughout its history, the Library has seized opportunities to collect snapshots of unique moments in human history and preserve them for future generations.

These snapshots of particular moments in history often give voice to history’s silent masses: ordinary people. Without the efforts of past generations, the nation might not have a collection of oral histories in the hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor or film footage depicting San Francisco before and after the great quake of 1906 

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

 



 

 

 

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