A new initiative has been launched to preserve tweets from deceased loved ones after the social network announced it will begin removing inactive accounts this December. The Twittering Dead project was announced by Internet Archive software curator and digital preservationist Jason Scott, and asks users to provide the Twitter handles of any accounts they’d like to see archived. Unlike Facebook and other services, Twitter does not offer a way to memorialize accounts.
Twitter announced its plan to remove old Twitter accounts yesterday. Starting December 11th, any account that has not been signed in to within the last six months risks being deleted, freeing up its username to be registered by someone else. Twitter says it made the decision to “clean up inactive accounts” in order to “present more accurate, credible information people can trust across Twitter.” But the move will also have the unfortunate side effect of removing some content with sentimental value.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter does not offer a way to memorialize accounts of the deceased. “We do not currently have a way to memorialize someone’s Twitter account once they have passed on, but the team is thinking about ways to do this,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Verge. The service currently allows you to download a Twitter account, but that’s not an option if you don’t have a loved one’s login details.
If you’re interested in participating in the project, you can fill out a Google Form setup by Scott. “Thank you for taking the time to speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves,” reads the form. All you need to provide is the account’s Twitter handle, and the project will attempt to back up the account “as best as current technology allows.” Then, if the account gets deleted in December, its content will be put up for browsing.
Jason Scott has a history of trying to preserve online services after they’re discontinued. In the past he’s attempted to back up SoundCloud’s archives when there were reports the streaming service was about to go out of business, and he also made thousands of MySpace songs available after they were deleted in a botched server update.