US Library of Congress backtracks on complete Twitter archive

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The platform hosted about 500 million daily tweets in 2013, at which point the Library of Congress had already amassed an archive of roughly 170 billion tweets and counting.

From December 31, the Library of Congress will no longer archive all posts but will still collect tweets deemed historically significant. In 2010, the institution reached an "exciting and groundbreaking" agreement with Twitter to acquire the text of every public tweet posted from 2006 through April 2010 in a "bold and celebrated" initiative that was praised by researchers.

"The Library regularly reviews its collections practices to account for environmental shifts, diversity of collections and topics, cost effectiveness, use of collections and other factors". The volume of tweets the Library receives each day has grown from 140 million beginning in February 2011 to almost half a billion tweets each day as of October 2012.

The Library of Congress will continue to archive certain tweets after January 1, but will focus on posts that are "thematic and event-based", including tweets concerning political elections, public policy matters or other issues of nation interest, it said in a statement.

"The Library now has a secure collection of tweet text, documenting the first 12 years (2006-2017) of this dynamic communications channel-its emergence, its applications and its evolution".

The Library of Congress said on Tuesday that it will no longer archive every public tweet.

"The volume of tweets and related transactions has evolved and increased dramatically since the initial agreement was signed", the library explains in a white paper accompanying the announcement.

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One reason that the Library is stopping the comprehensive archive?

The Library only receives text from tweets - not images or videos or links.

The intent has been to preserve the history of United States social media and how it's evolved.

"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.

So when will future historians get to dig into the vast Twitter archive now being held by the United States government? In late 2012, there were close to half a billion tweets per day.

These complications affected public access to the archive. For instance, President Trump's tweets are nearly certainly still going to be saved for future generations. "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".