When Twitter decided to kill API access to Politwoops and Diplotwoops, sites the archived the deleted tweets of politicians across the world, it was a pretty big blow to transparency.
“Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable? No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user’s voice,” said Twitter in defense of its decision.
Despite the protests of dozens of rights groups, Twitter stuck by its decision. Twitter blocked the US version of Politwoops on May 15, and the final blow came in August when it shut the operation down in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Portugal, Egypt, Estonia, France, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, South Korea, Macedonia, Norway, Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey and the Vatican.
You might not be able to track newly-deleted tweets from the world’s top politicians – but you can now search through all the old ones. Open State Foundation has announced that it has uploaded the entire Politwoops archive to the Internet Archive.
Here you’ll find all 1,106,187 deleted tweets from 10,404 politicians across 35 countries.
‘Social networks should take into account international norms about transparency and the right to information’, says Arjan El Fassed, director of Open State Foundation. ‘When politicians turn to social networks to amplify their views, they are inviting greater scrutiny of their expression’.
Earlier this month, human rights and transparency groups penned an open letter to Twitter asking it to restore Politwoops’ API access.
“Twitter’s reasoning conflates transparency and accountability with privacy. We agree that when users decide to delete tweets they are engaging in expression—but add that the public has a compelling interest in the expression of public officials. Recognizing this public interest, courts have long held that public officials do not receive the same treatment for privacy. Further, when public officials use Twitter to amplify their political views, they invite greater scrutiny of their expression. Journalists and civil society utilize tools like Politwoops to understand the views and commitments of the people these politicians represent—and the politician or candidate’s own intents and perspective. In this case, the citizen’s right to freedom of expression —which includes access to information—outweighs the official’s right to a retroactive edit,” wrote the groups, which include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and Fight for the Future.