As of Wednesday, it seems that White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs isn't the only person who has to remember that his "tweets" are being carefully preserved for posterity. We all do. The Library of Congress has acquired all the public messages from Twitter's archive, all the way back to the first one in March 2006. And since Google has made the archive searchable, anyone will be able to find out what people were thinking about particular events in history as they happened.
CNNMoney.com quotes a Library of Congress representative this way:
Expect to see an emphasis on the scholarly and research implications of the acquisition. I'm no Ph.D., but it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data.
I'm sure it will be fascinating.
But in addition to the academic, sociological study, I'm sure it won't be long before tweets are being introduced as evidence (if it's not already happening) in all kinds of litigation - from wrongful termination to child custody and divorce.
Yes, the tweets would have been in Twitter's public archive whether or not the Library of Congress acquired the rights to it, but something about this development makes the whole thing a little more weighty and permanent.
So, in case someone has missed it the first hundred times, let me say this again: Be careful what you throw out there for the world to see. Privacy is essentially a thing of the past, and the tweet that you shot off without thinking will come back to bite you.