#LOCFail – Library of Congress to archive all tweets, going back to 2006

April 14th, 2010

From the NY Times:

The library will archive the collected works of Twitter, the micro-blogging service, whose users currently send a daily flood of 55 million messages, or tweets, all 140 characters or less.

Library officials explained the agreement with Twitter as another step in its embrace of digital media. The Silicon Valley startup declared it “very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history.” Academic researchers seem pleased as well.

Will this affect tweeting habits, or chill speech?

Some online commentators raised the question of whether the library’s Twitter archive could threaten the privacy of users. Mr. Raymond noted that the archive will only be available for scholarly and research purposes. Besides, he added, the tweets that would be archived are publicly published on the Web — the vast majority. “It’s not as if we’re after anything that’s not out there already,” Mr. Raymond said. “People who sign up for Twitter agree to the terms of service.”

Knowing that the Library of Congress will be preserving Twitter messages for posterity could subtly alter the tweeting habits of some, said Paul Saffo, a visiting scholar atStanford University who specializes in technology’s impact on society. “After all,” Mr. Saffo noted, “your indiscretions will be able to be seen by generations and generations of graduate students.”

This spells doom for future confirmation battles. I can’t imagine confirmation hearings where every single tweet is archived for posterity. Society will have to come to accept that people do silly things online, and silly tweets need to ruin a person’s reputation. #EpicLOCFail