Twitter Gets Archived – at the Library of Congress

Just announced (by Tweet naturally) is that every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total in the last four years numbering in the billions.

The announcement is timed to coincide with the Twitter developers conference in California.

One wonders just how future researchers will grapple with all of this content.


  1. Wow, that a lot of inanities in one place.

  2. Lest we be too cynical about this being “a heap of all I could find”, the NYT, BBC and CNET Australia all offered comments, generally enthusiastic.

    However I suspect that exactly the same would have been said in 1749 when Humphrey Bartholomew donated his civil war pamphlets to the Bodleian.

  3. I’m not sure Simon. I tweet, I find the trending topics interesting and gather useful information from Twitter. But I have a difficult time grasping the cultural significance of tweets proclaiming the cuteness of teen pop icons 250 years from now. My point being that there is a lot, perhaps an unprecedented amount, of inanities surrounding the useful nuggets.

  4. I have seen on a US list a very vigorous discussion of whether the Library of Congress’s action violates the privacy of people who posted tweets. Is there any reasonable expectation of privacy in tweeting (assuming one does not restrict one’s use to point-to-point messages)? Does putting views out for anyone to look at imply consent to permanent archiving? If not, why not, and how would one opt out? Or how would one opt in?

    And why Twitter and not all of the other possible social media sites? Would it be the same, legally, to archive Facebook?

  5. Actually as a lawyer, I would love to have a future researcher have access to Counsel Connect which was the first social media/networking platform aimed at lawyers. It was born from the unlikely combination of David Johnson‘s prophetic brain and Steven Brill‘s wallet. Counsel Connect lasted 5 years or so.

    To be part of a dialogue in the earliest years of the web that included David Maister, Bryan Garner, Philip Argy and Stephen Gillers was extraordinary.

    I suspect that some archived server at American Lawyer Media still has the archive.

    But it would be a much more interesting archival resource than Twitter.

  6. There’s a useful interview with the LofC staff in the WSJ on what they plan to do with the material.