The Twitter Archive at the Library of Congress: Challenges for information practice and information policy
In April 2010, the U.S. Library of Congress and the popular micro-blogging company Twitter announced that every public tweet, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library and made available to researchers. The Library of Congress’ planned digital archive of all public tweets holds great promise for the research community, yet, over five years since its announcement, the archive remains unavailable. This paper explores the challenges faced by the Library that have prevented the timely realization of this valuable archive, divided into two categories: challenges involving practice, such as how to organize the tweets, how to provide useful means of retrieval, how to physically store them; and challenges involving policy, such as the creation of access controls to the archive, whether any information should be censored or restricted, and the broader ethical considerations of the very existence of such an archive, especially privacy and user control.
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