April 14th, 2010
05:15 PM ET
5 years ago

Twitter archive lands in nation's library

Washington (CNN) - Have you ever tweeted about what you just ate, the person you just met or the awesome CNN story you just read? Now that 140 character message will be archived in the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress has acquired the entire Twitter archive dating back to March 2006. The announcement was made first on the Library's Twitter account: "Library to acquire ENTIRE Twitter archive - ALL public tweets, ever, since March 2006!"

Approximately 50 million tweets are sent out a day and, thus far, five terabytes worth of data. Twitter accounts that are not public and direct messages will not be in the archive.

"We believe Twitter has value in the context of American history and culture," said Library Communications Director Matt Raymond.

The Library of Congress approached Twitter with the idea and Twitter agreed to give the information, for free, as a gift. Researchers have also been in touch with the library and will now start mining the data, using algorithms and specific techniques, to derive patterns and information of note.

"It's very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history," Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote in a blog post. "It should be noted that there are some specifics regarding this arrangement. Only after a six-month delay can the Tweets will be used for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation."

Researchers with a valid library card will be able to access the database at the Library of Congress in Washington.

Every tweet will be included, but the library highlighted a few noteworthy ones. There's the first tweet ever from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey: "just setting up my twttr"

And President Obama's tweet on election night: "We just made history. All of this happened because you gave your time, talent and passion. All of this happened because of you. Thanks"


Filed under: President Obama • Social Media
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Renata

    Wow this is scary...

    April 14, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. Morty

    It's a sad day in America when the mostly mindless "tweets" are to be considered anything other than what they are. What a giant wast of time and resources!
    But wait! There could be something else of hiddenvalue here.
    Just think someone could access them and create yet another worthless reality show.

    April 14, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. Andy

    Let me guess – this project is being funded with "stimulus" money. We all know that those tweets from frat party keggers are going to stimulate the economy! This is the epitome of inanity. The next gov't. project will be to save samples in glass vials of everyone's flatulence.

    April 14, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. Chelsea Behrens

    Even though this sounds kind of silly, I think it's a good idea to have something like a snapshot of what life was like for all of us since 2006. It will be something cool to look back on years and years from now. And privacy really isn't an issue here – if you're putting your day-to-day activities on the Internet it's your choice to throw your privacy out the window.

    April 14, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. Christopher

    I don't have a twitter account. :)

    April 14, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  6. Mlynn

    What a waste of the library's space. Some things were never meant to be kept forever. This is edging on the brink of hording.

    April 14, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. Sarah the baby seal basher

    Every word said will held against you in a court of law.

    April 14, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  8. El Gordo

    Andy wrote: "Let me guess – this project is being funded with "stimulus" money. We all know that those tweets from frat party keggers are going to stimulate the economy! ..."

    The article says, "The Library of Congress approached Twitter with the idea and Twitter agreed to give the information, for free, as a gift"

    Conservatives just make stuff up, then they are outraged about whatever it is that they just made up, and then they make something else up.

    April 14, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. BubbaRich

    That's simply not true, Kuhn. It's less than 2000 CDs, which could be stacked in less than one floor of the Hancock Building.

    April 14, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. ChicaWest

    Why archive tweets. With the exception of news affiliates it's all mindless chatters. What purpose could it possibly serve besides trying to study people's tweets as a means to create the next trend or curve in technology... I am so disappointed with the Library of Congress.

    April 14, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. Alex

    The guys who are saying things like "Bye Bye Privacy" need to hone their reading skills. The announcement and the story clearly state that only PUBLIC tweets are going into the archive. There was no privacy with these things at any time.

    Good on the Library for trying to find some way of archiving our digital culture. Historians and archivists are already calling the 2000s and 2010s the lost decades because of all the correspondence that will never be preserved, unlike written letters which are still readable centuries later.

    April 14, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  12. freelance

    This will not be "something cool to look back on years and years from now." Morty read my mind when he (or she) said it is sad and most of the tweets are mindless. All this will serve is to show how inane much of our culture is/was at this time.

    April 14, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  13. Amunaka

    I knew it ...just another government take over...now it's of anything that twitters....whats next...the face me books...

    April 14, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |