[Air-L] Library of Congress Acquires Entire (Public) Twitter Archive

Michael Zimmer zimmerm at uwm.edu
Wed Apr 14 17:12:25 PDT 2010

Consider this scenario:

1- You decide to protect your privacy/visibility and keep your tweet stream private.

2- I send a request to follow you. You accept. I now receive your private tweet stream.

3- I retweet one of your private tweets. My steam is public. Your tweet is now public.

4- The Library of Congress archives my public stream, including your private tweet that I had retweeted.

So, (a) it is ethically-questionable whether users with public streams should be retweeting private tweets without express consent, and (b) people's attempts to restrict access to their tweets can be easily thwarted, and ultimately those private tweets can end up in public archives with the rest of the masses.


Michael Zimmer, PhD
Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies
Associate, Center for Information Policy Research
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
e: zimmerm at uwm.edu
w: www.michaelzimmer.org

On Apr 14, 2010, at 6:35 PM, Nancy Baym wrote:

> I am reminded of Google's acquisition of USENET archives and reposting of them as "google groups," indexed and searchable. It was a little shocking to find that posts you had assumed were going to a group at one time in a non-archived forum were now searchable, often times by your email address.
> On the other hand, my gut reaction to the Library of Congress archiving public Twitter posts is positive. The public twitter stream is of historical cultural significance and is an amazing repository of mundane moments in the daily lives of many people and records of what they thought important. It was initially posted in an architecture that was searchable and that displayed all public tweets in an ongoing stream. I think it's great that the Twitter stream will be preserved and curated by an institution which is not going to go out of business, or get bought and reinvented, or just reinvent itself and make it all go away.
> I recognize the privacy issues at stake, and think it's important to discuss them, but I'm fine with this.
> Nancy,
>> On Apr 14, 2010, at 6:13 PM, Michael Zimmer wrote:
>>> For those who haven't already seen the news, the Library of Congress announced today that they are acquiring the entire archive of public Twitter activity since March 2006:
>>> Library of Congress Announcement:
>>>  How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive
>>>  http://www.loc.gov/tweet/how-tweet-it-is.html
>>> Twitter Announcement:
>>>  Tweet Preservation
>>>  http://blog.twitter.com/2010/04/tweet-preservation.html
>> > And my initial probe of various open concerns:
>>>  Open Questions about Library of Congress Archiving Twitter Streams
>> > http://michaelzimmer.org/2010/04/14/open-questions-about-library-of-congress-archiving-twitter-streams/
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