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Library of Congress To Receive Entire Twitter Archive 106

An anonymous reader writes "The Library of Congress and Twitter have signed an agreement that will see an archive of every public Tweet ever sent handed over to the library's repository of historical documents. 'We have an agreement with Twitter where they have a bunch of servers with their historic archive of tweets, everything that was sent out and declared to be public,' said Bill Lefurgy, the digital initiatives program manager at the library's national digital information infrastructure and preservation program. Researchers will be able to look at the Twitter archive as a complete set of data, which they could then data-mine for interesting information."
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Library of Congress To Receive Entire Twitter Archive

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  • Even deleted ones? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:29PM (#38295564)

    I deleted my Twitter account and it's been 30 days. Does Twitter still keep those tweets for posterity on their servers through some manner of legal acrobatics?

    • by Shoe Puppet ( 1557239 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:31PM (#38295598)

      I stopped selling the book I wrote and it's been 30 days. May the world still have copies of it through some manner of legal acrobatics?

      Once you have published something, you cannot expect to be able to pull it back.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:42PM (#38295760)

        Twitter says they're going to delete it after thirty days. There's a marked difference between 'delete' and 'archive'. I have no issue if someone cut and pasted the last 3200 tweets from my Twitter account but the fact Twitter says they'll delete the tweets, not archive them, is deceptive.

        • Twitter says they're going to delete it after thirty days.

          No they don't.

          Why can't I see all my Tweets? My Tweet count is _,___. Are they lost?

          The good news is they're not lost or gone! We have all your Tweets. The bad news is that we currently only allow you to see the 3200 most recent Tweets (this could also be construed as good news, as that number could be lower than 3200). We do not currently plan to change this limit, but we welcome your feedback - just send a mention to @feedback.

          From the Twitter FAQs [].

          - RG>

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Bad Analogy. Twitter still hosting the content is the equivalent of a publisher still selling the books.
    • Anonymous Coward had a Twitter account? Huh, never knew that.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That, and also what about the attached or linked images?

      Would love to see Hayley Williams' (Paramore) accidentally tweeted pic of her tits archived for "research" by future generations. []

    • Legal acrobatics? You published it! That means that anyone in the whole internet who asked for it, got it. There should be no more expectation that you can take that back than you should be able to stop people from remembering what you said out loud. Less. Twitter themselves couldn't take it back if they wanted to.

      • by petman ( 619526 )
        Interesting that you analogized tweeting with saying something out loud. I'm pretty sure if someone were to record things random people say in a public place and then publishes the recordings, there would be legal repercussions.
    • Old News (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dan541 ( 1032000 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @06:07PM (#38296118) Homepage
      • by Anonymous Coward

        It was even posted on Slashdot [].

    • I think your tweets will disappear faster if you send them a DMCA notice and threaten to sue their pants off.

      Some pastebin links to legally hot material have mysteriously gone 404.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I guess that's why the call it a FAQ:
      "Private account information and deleted tweets will not be part of the archive."

  • Any from anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AdamJS ( 2466928 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:30PM (#38295584)

    Even if it's in their TOS that you lose all rights to the IP contained in a given tweet, this will more than guarantee some lawsuits from some very large groups.

    • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:35PM (#38295642)
      Why? Anyone who made a public tweet with the expectancy of being able to retain some control over it is, well, a moron... oh wait nevermind. You're probably right.
      • by AdamJS ( 2466928 )

        IIRC corporates have sued over confidential information that was recorded on unlisted (but still public!) satellite channels.

        I think the DNC may have also took action over the Clinton video that appears in Spin (long before, of course), but I can't remember exactly.

    • No, you don't lose "Intellectual Property". You just gave non exclusive right for Twitter, and everybody else, to distribute your "intellectual Property". But it's still yours.

      Then again, given twitter's size limit, it's not protected under the general interpretation of copyright. It's only 160 characters.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Twitter is only 140 characters, actually.

      • I think most web services work this way. IANAL, but I'm sure a signature is required for an actual copyright transfer.
    • Twitter can still be served with a DMCA takedown notice.

      Imagine if someone tweeted the PS3 root keys?

      • by AdamJS ( 2466928 )

        But if all of it so far is going into public domain (perhaps I'm wrong on that point, I really don't know) then there's nothing to takedown?

        • It's not on public domain just because it gets posted to twitter.

          Copyrighted content remains copyrighted no matter where you post it.

          Slapping something on twitter that wasn't yours to begin with doesn't magically make it subject to twitter's terms. You have violated the implied warranty of authority by attempting to act without the permission of the copyright holder as their agent.

          Which means you get busted for infringement and your rogue post to twitter gets taken down in compliance with the DMCA. It's n

  • Oh great... (Score:5, Funny)

    by BlastfireRS ( 2205212 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:32PM (#38295616) the inane mumblings and poor grammar of the Twitter Age will be remembered throughout history. I was kinda hoping we'd eventually be able to forget all of this ever happened.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Same with the previous generations and Usenet, heck even slashdot archive everything, just face up to it, if you don't want your comments to be online forever, don't upload them in the first place! the RIAA and MPAA is having to learn this the hard way.

    • the inane mumblings and poor grammar of the Twitter Age will be remembered throughout history. I was kinda hoping we'd eventually be able to forget all of this ever happened.

      Obligatory inane comment about wasted taxpayer money.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sure, why not. A historical rune inscription that I am rather fond of reads
      "oli er oskeyndr auk strodhinn i rassinn",
      which apparently means roughly "Oli has been taken in his unwiped ass."
      We tend to think of the study of history as a dignified, if not outright dull pursuit, but there's a lot of vulgarity there, in both senses.

      I'm sure that seen with the hindsight of twenty years, or of a hundred years, the texts on Twitter will have a very distinctive feel of the decade about them. And I think that as long

  • How much space will this take up?
  • Pooping (Score:5, Funny)

    by stevegee58 ( 1179505 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:34PM (#38295636) Journal
    All my pooping tweets preserved for all posteriority. (intentional misspelling)
  • by mr1911 ( 1942298 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:42PM (#38295742)

    Researchers will be able to look at the Twitter archive as a complete set of data, which they could then data-mine for interesting information.

    Nothing interesting was found.

  • by karmicoder ( 2205760 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:44PM (#38295794)
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Because it's a great documentation of early online society.
      Plus there is a ton of social and behavioral data to be found.

      I know it's hip to poo-poo twitter on /., but the vast majority of users are normal people with fine spelling tweeting about things that interest them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So future generations can look back on the golden age of the internet when everybody was talking and nobody was listening.

    • I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic, but these are of immense historical importance. Often times the big historical events are only seen as such in retrospect. So people's reactions to them tend to be heavily based on conjecture and memory rather than solid data. Say what you want about twitter, but it serves as a minute by minute log of the emotional state of people within seconds of anything happening. And yes, there is some selection bias going on in that it's only data from the kind of person who use
    • Simple: joke material for your grandchildren!

  • I don't know how correct it is, but @PogoWasRight uses it. I asked her why, and she said that tweets with the #n are ignored by Library of Congress import.
  • by davesque ( 1911272 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:47PM (#38295842)
    I've thus far stayed out of the privacy debate, but this is starting to scare me. Where is our right to oblivion, as Jeffrey Rosen put it (see this article []). We call it a right because it represents a fundamental part of the human psyche. Thusly, we can either adapt our system to account for it or face the consequences later when the system breaks down. I have to put in a dissenting vote for this idea.
    • wait, you vote for not storing public information?

      • It's called "the anonymity of the crowd." If you think about it, following you around in a public place is called stalking for that reason. You have a right to go about your public business without undue and/or unwanted scrutiny, though less than you used to.

        It's the same with the tweets - you agreed to post them for people to read in near-real time, not to be fodder for people to look at "forever and ever, world without end, amen and pass the gravy."

        There's also the problem of context, both literal

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      IT's public information. It has exactly NOTHING to do with privacy.
      Let me know when twitter gives you the option for tweets to be private,and then gives out THAT information.


      • Well, they do give you the option to "protect" your tweets, making it so that you have to approve everyone who can see them. Will those be archived as well?
      • That flamebait reply is also public. Image this: Some years later, you are going through an important job application process. The company you're wanting to get hired at queries your name in a "public" online records archive and they find this post where you rashly label someone an idiot and decide you are unfit to work for them because it gives the impression of a hot temper.

        Or perhaps they don't even personally view the post, but it was factored into a kind of "personality score sheet" by a data mining

    • People's diaries and letters are published all the time, especially after they're dead and no longer have a say in the matter. And those are things that aren't initially published in a public medium.

      - RG>

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A wild corpus appears!

  • Does anyone know how big the Twitter archive is? In terms of Libraries of Congress? Because with this new "donation", the size of the Library of Congress could double, and it will increase with every tweet.
  • "It has become clear that if a person agrees with the idea that all tweets be archived in the Library of Congress then they are a stupid sheep getting f****d in the mouth :) []"
  • Great. Now the taxpayers are on the hook for Twitter's backup maintenance costs. Seriously. They don't even need their own storage anymore. I'm sure, since the Library of Congress is a publicly available entity, they'll have full access to the data-sets. They can just pipe everything straight to the LIB servers then access them at will, at any time. And who the fuck is paying for all that bandwidth?

    Next we'll see the entire Facebook data-sets, Google cache data...

  • This is a joke right?
  • ... of each unit of writing in said library by about half, I'd say.

  • You can have my 'tweets' when you pry my journal (it's not a diary Damnit!) from my cold dead hands.

  • I think I will wait until Google Books scan it before I bother reading it ;)

  • by Altanar ( 56809 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:56PM (#38299358)
    Twitter Terms of Service: [] "By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use."
  • "Nothing is ever really deleted."

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.