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Politwoops is a web application and a network of connected websites devoted to archiving the deleted tweets of government officials. The tool operated between June 2012 and August 2015, and was widely cited by political journalists.


Politwoops was launched on May 30th, 2012 by the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit devoted to transparent government practices. Using Twitter's developer API, the site tracked the Twitter accounts of all the members of Congress in the United States, as well as President Barack Obama, and the accounts of candidates running for president in 2012]

According to Sunlight Foundation employee Nicko Margolies, the site would track when the politician deleted the tweet, how much time elapsed between when it was posted and when it was deleted, and include screenshots of any links to external sites. Upon its launch it already had an archive of over 3,000 tweets; by the end of the site, three years later, it had archived over 15,500.[1]

Cessation of Service

On June 3th, 2015, Twitter contacted the Sunlight Foundation and informed them that the exception being made to the Twitter Terms of Service that allowed Politwoops to collect and archive the tweets of politicians would no longer be honored. Twitter claimed in a statement to Gawker that "Honoring the expectation of user privacy for all accounts is a priority for us, whether the user is anonymous or a member of Congress."[4] However, this is in direct opposition to the law, which says that what American elected officials say publicly (Twitter is considered a public forum) is a matter of public record. [3]

The Sunlight Foundation claimed to have not received any warning of the decision. In fact, according to the Christopher Gates, the president of the foundation, Twitter had actually cut the feed to their application three weeks before any communication had occurred between the two. Gates stated, ". . .We were told that their decision was not something that we could appeal, and, most surprisingly, they were not interested in reviewing any of the email conversation from 2012. Clearly, something changed -- and we’re not likely to ever know what it was."

The cessation of Politwoops – first in America, and then with the 30 worldwide affiliates that used the same software – was covered in most major news publications, including the Guardian , the Washington Post, and the New York Daily News.[5][6][7] In addition, many Twitter users involved in the political sphere on both the conservative and progressive sides of government publicly stated their support for the tool using Twitter, resulting in over 5,000 tweets using their name.[8]


Jeff Miller's Birther Tweet

Upon its launch in on May 30th, 2012, one of the tweets recorded by Politwoops came from Florida Congressman Jeff Miller, who asked "Was Obama Born in the United States?" and linked to a Facebook poll asking the same question, indicating that the representative was supportive of the Birther Movement. Miller's staff, when asked about the deleted tweet by Slate reporter Jeremy Stahl, said that the Congressman did not support the movement and that the tweet had been sent by mistake. Miller deleted his Twitter account that day.[9]

Bowe Bergdahl Release Tweets

After the release of prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban, many politicians tweeted to express happiness that Bergdahl had been returned to his home country. However, when Republicans began to criticize the Obama administration for exchanging five high-level Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl, who many believed defected from his base, members of the GOP began deleting their congratulatory tweets. The members of the goverment who deleted tweets collected by Politwoops included Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), and Joni Ernst, GOP Senate candidate in Iowa.[10]

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Top Comments


I'm not sure how I feel about this.

On one hand, I mostly agree with their goal and don't think they should have been shut down, but at the same time, I don't like farming quotes from years ago to "prove" that someone is a hypocrite. People change their minds about things, y'know? If you asked 12 year old me how I felt about Smosh and gay people, I'd have said the former was great and the latter was awful, even though those are clearly stupid points of view to me now.

winton overwat
winton overwat

It all really boils down to weather you consider a Twitter account to be a personal outlet or an official outlet. If the former, then yes, politicians have a right to privacy; if the latter, then privacy is overwridden by the public interest.


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