Twitter Disables Network of Websites That Track Deleted Tweets From Politicians

August 24, 2015 Updated: August 24, 2015

Twitter has disabled a group of websites that archived deleted tweets from politicians and diplomats worldwide. The Open State Foundation (OSF) said that Twitter turned off API access to the websites, known collectively as Politwoops and Diplowoops, on Friday, Aug. 21, out of privacy concerns for its users.

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

Politwoops had its U.S. branch shut down by Twitter in May, and on Friday the crackdown was applied to the websites that operated in the remaining 30 countries across five continents, which included Argentina, Canada, Croatia, India, Turkey, the Vatican, as well as members of the European Union.

“What elected politicians publicly say is a matter of public record. Even when tweets are deleted, it’s part of parliamentary history,” Arjan El Fassed, the director of OSF, said in a statement.

The decision appears to be final.

The decision appears to be final, as Twitter said that the shutdown was the result of “thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors.”

The ideal of the Internet as an immutable archive has been undermined on multiple fronts, and not just from private companies like Twitter and Snapchat.

The European Union’s Right to be Forgotten regulations require Google and other search engines remove from their search results links to Web pages that contains negative information about a person if they request it, and is often used to erase links to news reports of past bankruptcies and criminal records.

Google was forced to implement a Right to Be Forgotten policy in 2014 after losing a protracted legal battle with a Spanish citizen who wanted news reports of his foreclosures delisted from Google Spain. As a result, residents of the European Union can request that potentially defamatory Web pages be delinked from the European versions of Google search by submitting a simple form.