Twitter has shut down a network of sites dedicated to archiving deleted tweets from politicians around the world. The sites — collectively known as Politwoops — were overseen by the Open State Foundation (OSF), which reported that Twitter suspended their API access on Friday, August 21st. Twitter reportedly told the OSF that its decision was the result of "thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors," and that the social media site didn't distinguish between politicians and regular users.
"Imagine how nerve-racking — terrifying, even — tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?" Twitter reportedly told the OSF. "No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user’s voice."
"What politicians say in public should be available to anyone."
The US arm of Politwoops was shut down in June this year, but this new decision affects countries all over the world including Canada, Egypt, India, Ireland, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Norway, and the UK. The Diplotwoops site, dedicated to archiving deleted tweets from diplomats, was also shut down, with the OSF noting that all the accounts had been "extensively used and cited by journalists around the world." The organization's director, Arjan El Fassed, commented: "What politicians say in public should be available to anyone. This is not about typos, but it is a unique insight on how messages from elected politicians can change without notice."
The British arm of Politwoops, known by the handle @deletedbyMPs, was among those affected by Twitter's decision. Jules Mattsson, who runs the account, told The Guardian: "It’s a terrible shame that Twitter has made this decision. Politwoops has been an important new tool in political accountability in the UK and abroad. Politicians are all too happy to use social media to campaign, but if we lose the ability for this to be properly preserved, it becomes a one-way tool."