Last week, we learned that the Library of Congress was archiving every single public Tweet since the dawn of Twitter in their National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. The Twitterverse, while largely pleased that its words were going to be immortalized by the U.S. Government, were also quite concerned with the Big Brotheriness of the data grab. Thankfully, a post on the official Twitter blog and, Friday’s American Prospect Q&A with the NDIIPP’s director Martha Anderson have answered some of those questions: What does Twitter Preservation mean to me? And can I still delete those incriminating drunken Tweets?
What if I don’t want my Tweets in the Library of Congress for all eternity?
The transfer deal is singed, but hasn’t actually begun yet and won’t begin for some time. The LOC is still working out the best way to transfer 5 Terabytes (more than 18 billion Tweets per year) of data from the current overstuffed archive to their own plushy storage facility. In other words, you’ve got a little time to think long and hard about the value of those Tweets. If you delete them now, before the data grab begins, they won’t be included.
But I want my Tweets, I just don’t want them to get at them.
There is a possibility, according to Anderson, that Twitter could make the call to let people opt out of being included in the archive, but there’s no word yet from Twitter on how likely that option will be.
Will the data be used to create a better search engine for finding people and Tweets for Twitter users?
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone revealed in an official blog post that Google is creating a search engine of sorts for Twitter called Google Replay which will allow users to recreate a real time search from specific moments in the past, particularly historical events. For now it only goes back a few months, but will eventually be a complete, and more accessible form of archive for Twitter users. You can test it out here.
Will the archives be available for advertisers to target specific accounts?
Not so much. That same Twitter blog post explains that the Tweet archive can only be accessed “for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation”…and to find dirt on future politicians. The Prospect story reveals, “Libraries don’t censor. And how [people] use the information is not something we police.” However, once the transfer is complete, there may be an embargo of up to a few years before they can be accessed for any purpose.