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article imageU.S. limits social media tweets put into its national archive

By Tim Sandle     Dec 28, 2017 in Internet
With more and more communication now in a digital format, how much of this information should be collected by state archives in a way comparable to print media? The U.S. has announced its scaling back on collecting Twitter feeds.
Since 2010 the U.S. Library of Congress has been collecting Twitter posts and other digital media and archiving these, so that the messages are available for future researchers to peruse. However, from January 1st, perhaps reflecting the sheer scale of social media activity, the body which serves the United States Congress has announced it will only save tweets "on a selective basis."
A report issued by the Capitol Hill based archive states that, going forwards, tweets selected for archiving will now be "thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, of themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy."
The reasons for the shrinking collection of tweets is based on three decision points. First, the volume of tweets and related transactions has evolved and increased significantly. Second, the Library only receives text. Tweets containing images, videos or
linked content are not included. Given that many tweets now are often more visual than textual, this limits the value of text-only collecting. The third reason given is that Twitter has expanded the size of tweets beyond what was originally described (1452 characters), and this impacts on the ability of the archive to capture, store and index data.
The decision is reflective of the complexity of social media messaging. To attempt to catalog every tweet would be a challenge that would steadily grows bigger and more complicated every day. There are over 500 million tweets sent each day.
More about Library of congress, Archive, Twitter, Social media
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