We’re Wondering: Is Every Tweet I Ever Wrote Really Public Knowledge?

image: hercampus.com

At a maximum of 140 characters, most people think of Tweets as sweet nothings that fade from view soon after they are read and forgotten. Tweets are hardly worthy of federal attention, and they are certainly not data to be kept in Library of Congress archives. Right?

Well, wrong. As odd as it may seem, the Library of Congress has been digitally archiving every public pronouncement on Twitter since the first Tweet in March of 2006. Why would the Library of Congress want to archive Tweets? Read the explanation here.

Deleted Tweets might seem like an obvious exception to archival.  Tweets can be deleted for reasons as simple as typos, misspelled handles, or incorrect information.  So what happens to those Tweets that get deleted, sometimes just a few seconds after their release? They are gone forever, right?

Well, wrong. For a short while, the website Tweleted allowed those interested in finding deleted Tweets to do so.  Twitter soon fixed the bug that allowed the site to function.  Another site, Undetweetable, has archived past deleted Tweets. However, Twitter no longer supports the site, so new users are not being added.  If you have a few free moments, you can still browse random sets of deleted Tweets on the site.

As of now, it seems like only politicians are in danger of having all their deleted Tweets actively exposed. The site Politwoops!, run by the Sunlight Foundation, makes sure every deleted Tweet from a politician is exposed, no matter how mundane or risqué.  So are businesses and laypeople who delete Tweets safe from Tweet-deletion exposure? Sometimes.

Keep in mind that Google’s spiders constantly search and index the internet, including Facebook, Twitter, and websites.  If there is a piece of information you are very interested in removing, you can attempt to do so with a kind request to Google, but there is no guarantee.

The lesson for laypeople and business accounts is to publish Tweets with discretion.   If you are new to Twitter and its etiquette, consider creating a personal account to “practice” Tweeting until you have a handle on the tools and methods.  You can also hire social media experts, like Sandler & Wald Social Media, to help with set-up, maintenance, and development of your account and avoid the pitfalls of the Twitterverse.

Want more reading about this topic? See the links below.

Twitter Blog: “Tweet Preservation” 

Library of Congress and the Twitter Archive

The Atlantic Addresses Politwoops!

Twitter Support Explains Public/Protected Tweets

DailyMotion: Your Tweets are Public

Reuters Writes About Social Media Amnesia

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,