Twitter becomes the social network of record with news that Library of Congress is to archive all public tweets from the site
It began with “just setting up my twttr” at 3:50pm on 21 March 2006. Four years and 105,779,710 registered users (as of yesterday morning) later, Twitter has become an official social network of record, with the announcement by the Library of Congress – the world’s largest library – that it will store every single tweet posted on Twitter for posterity.
Fittingly, the announcement was made within 140 characters on the Library of Congress’s own Twitter feed: “Library to acquire ENTIRE Twitter archive – ALL public tweets, ever, since March 2006! Details to follow.” The Library’s blog then reported:
That’s right. 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 numbering in the billions.
Twitter’s official blog commented:
Since Twitter began, billions of tweets have been created. Today, fifty-five million tweets a day are sent to Twitter and that number is climbing sharply. A tiny percentage of accounts are protected but most of these tweets are created with the intent that they will be publicly available. Over the years, tweets have become part of significant global events around the world—from historic elections to devastating disasters.
It is our pleasure to donate access to the entire archive of public Tweets to the Library of Congress for preservation and research. It’s very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history.
There will be restrictions of the use of tweets. According to the Twitter blog, there will be a six month delay before tweets are available for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself and preservation. Personal, direct messages on Twitter will not be archived.
Less dramatic but probably more useful was the announcement by Google today of a new tool that allows users to search, select and “replay” what people said on Twitter. Presently the service only extends back to February but Google says soon it will reach all the way back to Twitter’s foundation. According to the Google blog:
Starting today, you can zoom to any point in time and “replay” what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter. To try it out, click “Show options” on the search results page, then select “Updates.” The first page will show you the familiar latest and greatest short-form updates from a comprehensive set of sources, but now there’s a new chart at the top. In that chart, you can select the year, month or day, or click any point to view the tweets from that specific time period.