The Library of Congress Has All Your Tweets. Now What?

The Library of Congress Has All Your Tweets. Now What?
The Library of Congress archives all public messages on Twitter. This was announced two years ago (on Twitter, of course). The Library has the very first tweet, the Twitter equivalent of the Gutenberg Bible. It preserves Barack Obama’s presidential victory tweet as well as George Washington’s diary.

Now that the Library has amassed this huge and growing sea of  social media data, it doesn’t know what to do with it. Meanwhile, the tweets keep gushing in.

And remember this: The LoC isn’t your library, it serves Congress. While most countries have national libraries, this United States Government repository is primarily for the use of the national legislature, just like the name says.

Since members of Congress have been enthusiastic but indiscriminate adopters of Twitter, we wonder if incumbents will restrict access to their own  embarrassing tweets or sift through the mass of data to see who’s been bad-mouthing them in 140 characters. “Don’t Be Evil” is the motto of Google, not Congress.


“Library Of Congress Twitter Archive Nears Finish, Remains Unusable,” Carl Franzen, TPMIdeaLab

“Library of Congress digs in to full archive of 170 billion tweets,” Daniel Terdiman, CNET News


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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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