Politwoops Window Now Blackened

September 17, 2015

Why is Twitter helping politician around the world cover their tracks? The Bangkok Post reports, “Website that Saves Politicians’ Deleted Tweets Suspended.” Founded by the Open State Foundation as tool for transparency, Politwoops had made an agreement with Twitter in 2012 to use its API to post tweets that politicians (or their advisors) thought better of in retrospect. While Twitter reasons that any of their users should be able to take back tweets, the Open Foundation director asserts that public statements by public officials should remain part of the public record. The article states:

“Since being formed at a so-called hackathon five years ago, the website that is a useful tool for journalists and a frequent source of embarrassment for politicians, has spread to 30 countries from Egypt to the Vatican, as well as the European Parliament. It started operating in the US in 2012 thanks to the Sunlight Foundation, which fights for transparency in politics. Diplotwoops which screens deleted messages by diplomats and embassies around the world was set up in 2014. Twitter was not immediately available for comment, but the Open Foundation said it was told the social media giant decided to suspend access to Politwoops ‘following thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors that doesn’t distinguish between users.’”

Um, except that one user is not like another. The public has a vested interest in knowing where elected officials stand, and it is tough to search when the content is no longer available. I wonder just what prompted Twitter’s “thoughtful internal deliberation.”

Cynthia Murrell, September 17, 2015

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