OMG! Fleeting thoughts that last forever

Library of Congress' Twitter archive gives another reason to watch what you say

Ever had second thoughts about a tweet you sent out? Well, now you have one more reason to be careful about posting those idle thoughts. The Library of Congress announced last month that it is acquiring and digitally preserving the entire Twitter archive, all the way back to the inception of the messaging service in March 2006.

“Expect to see an emphasis on the scholarly and research implications of the acquisition,” wrote the library’s Matt Raymond on his LOC blog. “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. And I’m certain we’ll learn things that none of us now can even possibly conceive.”

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Not everyone was so enthusiastic about the project. Responses ranged from, “I think this is downright awesome!” to “my tax dollars are paying for this? You can’t be serious.”

One frequently expressed concern was that of copyright. Those tweets were private, weren’t they? Well, not really. Twitter’s user agreement gives the company the right to do what it wants with them. That includes making them available for posterity.

One day, we’ll look back at this and laugh. And laugh and laugh.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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