Twitter restores access to Politwoops, tracker of politicians’ deleted tweets

Politicians’ deleted tweets will once again flow freely into Politwoops and similar sites, thanks to a change of heart by Twitter.

Earlier this year, Twitter cut off the sites’ access to its API (application programming interface), saying preserving deleted tweets violated its developer agreement. It also said its users deserved privacy, “whether the user is anonymous or a member of Congress.” The sites — which have captured bizarre and sometimes embarrassing tweets deleted by politicians and their aides for the past few years — were cut off first in the United States, as I reported in June, then worldwide in August.

It’s not clear what has changed, although Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hinted in October that the company might reverse its controversial decision, citing his company’s desire to “empowering” organizations such as Politwoops. The move had been protested by many digital rights organizations around the world, which said “Twitter’s decision holds grave consequences for free expression and transparency around the world.”

In response to my question about whether anything had changed in terms of API access, Arjan El Fassed, director of the Netherlands-based Open State Foundation, said in an email this morning that “Politwoops will be back online as it was.” The Open State Foundation said on its website said that the agreement came after meetings with Twitter after Dorsey’s statements in October.

Twitter has not responded to a request for comment this morning.

Colin Crowell, Twitter’s vice president for Global Public Policy, wrote in a blog post Thursday that The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, which operate Politwoops and Diplotwoops, are “important,” and that the company looks forward to “using Twitter to bring more transparency to public dialogue.”


Photo from AFP/Getty Images archives


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