The Library of Congress is going to start being more selective about which tweets it decides to save in its archives.
Since 2010, the research library for the United States Congress has been archiving all public tweets dating back to Twitter’s launch in 2006.
Not anymore. Beginning in 2018, the Library of Congress says it will “continue to acquire tweets but will do so on a very selective basis.”
“Generally, the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy,” the organization wrote in a white paper published this week.
Let’s assume that includes tweets from elected officials, like President Donald Trump, though we’ve asked for clarification and will update if we hear back.
Update: When asked, a spokesperson for the Library of Congress simply pointed us back to the white paper.
The Library gave a few reasons for the change.
- The volume of tweets is much higher than it was when this project started. In late 2012, there were close to half a billion tweets per day. Twitter no longer shares this number publicly, but it’s possible that it’s much higher.
- The Library only receives text from tweets — not images or videos or links. Given how visual Twitter has become, lots of tweets in the archive are probably missing important context.
- The Library claims that Twitter’s decision to launch longer tweets — users now have 280 characters per tweet instead of 140 characters — also played into the policy change, though it’s not clear why the tweet length really matters.
Either way, the Library claims it’s been an interesting experiment and snapshot into the early rise of social media online. (We’ll take their word for it, because the archive is not actually publicly available yet.)
“The Twitter Archive may prove to be one of this generation’s most significant legacies to future generations,” the Library’s white paper reads. “Future generations will learn much about this rich period in our history, the information flows, and social and political forces that help define the current generation.”
The change will go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2018.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.