Twitter brings back Politwoops: Site allows tool designed to archive politicians' tweets to return

The site had previously said that it was ‘nerve-racking – terrifying, even’ to save tweets even after they had been deleted

Twitter has allowed for the return of Politwoops, a service built to save politicians’ tweets.

The Politwoops tool had long watched for tweets by politicians and saved them even if they were deleted. But in summer, Twitter decided that it would be shut down, arguing that it was “terrifying” not to be able to delete tweets.

The site has now said that it has come to an agreement with the group’s behind the tool — The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation — that will allow it to return.

“This agreement is great news for those who believe that the world needs more transparency,” said Arjan El Fassed, the director of the Open State Foundation. “Our next step is now to continue and expand our work to enable the public to hold public officials accountable for their public statements.”

Politwoops came out of a hackathon in 2010, and gradually grew to monitor tweets by politicians in dozens of countries. It was run by the Open State Foundation, which argued that it helped to hold politicians to account and that even deleted tweets were important public statements.

“In many parts of the world Twitter is a central component of the public record,” said Brett Soloman, the executive director of the global digital rights organization Access Now. “Re-establishing a mechanism to record, store and publish deleted tweets of politicians and public officials further demonstrates Twitter’s commitment to transparency and political accountability.”

When it shut down the feature, Twitter said that it had done so after “thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors”, according to the Open State Foundation.

“‘Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?” the group said that Twitter asked. “No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user’s voice.”

Twitter shut down the service in the US in May. The Open State Foundation continued to run it in another 30 countries, but then it got shut down entirely in August.

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