How much thought do you put into your tweets? On April 14, the Library of Congress announced (through its Facebook and Twitter pages) that it will archive all publicly available tweets that have been posted to Twitter since the medium’s inception in 2006. Twitter agreed to donate its archive of public tweets to the library.
This new partnership between Twitter and the Library of Congress is not designed to invade our privacy, but instead to document the way we communicate.
According to the New York Times, “the Library of Congress wants to store tweets to give researchers a better way to revisit discussions of significant events, including the tweets that occurred after President Obama’s election in 2008, during the protests in Iran last year and the earthquakes in Haiti and elsewhere this year.”
The Library’s interest in Tweets highlights the importance of Twitter as a communication tool. The medium is a great way to gauge what is happening in the world, from pop culture to sports to current events. Electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWOM) travels through twitter much in the same way that word spreads through a crowd or a high school. Simply glancing at the “trending topics” on Twitter can give you a good sense of the buzz of the day.
Businesses and politicians alike have already jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, realizing the potential it has to reach as mass audience in a short period of time and to capture public opinion. It makes sense that that government would want to keep a public record of reactions to events and issues that help shape our lives.
The Library will have access to tweets beginning six months after they are posted, and will update its database continuously.
So think twice before you tweet—not only because other people will be able to read your status update for years to come, but also because it is making history.