Library of Congress Acquires Public Twitter Archive

Lora Bentley

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. 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.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Apr 15, 2010 5:11 AM John Sawyer John Sawyer  says:

Regarding Twitter and Library of Congress ... makes sense privacy is main topic of the moment, but how will 55+ million Tweets a day be managed and made sense of? 

Saffron Technology issued a press release today about a way to do precisely that, and announced a new open-source demo app based on associative memory technology.  It's called TweetDive ( ) and is already uses live Twitter feeds as a data source.  Here's a link to the announcement:

Apr 19, 2010 7:37 AM JC Scholtes JC Scholtes  says:

When I heard the news that all of Twitter will be archived by the Library of Congress, my first thought was: 'they are two weeks late, this should have

been published April 1st!' Surprisingly, the news seems to be genuine and the Library of Congress and Twitter have made joint announcements that all

Twitter communication (that is ALL) since 2006 will be archived as part of the historical archives of the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and I am sure one of their goals is to remain the largest library on the planet. Maybe this is an

effort by the Library of Congress to stay ahead of the National Chinese library once and for all! However, archiving millions of Tweets rather than priceless

works seems like an eccentric strategy.

In a library one expects to find knowledge and not raw unfiltered data like Tweets. As far as I can tell, 99.9999999% or more of all Tweets have no

historical relevance and lack substance, let alone knowledge.

Do you remember the opening stanza of T. S. Eliot's Choruses from the Rock:  'Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the

knowledge we have lost in information?' Well, with all that Twitter communication now being archived in a library, I am completely lost!

Read more here:

Johannes C. Scholtes - Chief Strategy Officer, ZyLAB


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