Last week, on the brink of the new year, Politwoops announced that it’s on track to be reborn, as Twitter agreed to restore its API access.
Twitter had killed the embarrassing political tweet archive in June and in August went on to suspend API access to remaining Politwoops sites, plus the diplomat-tracking site Diplotwoops, in 30 other countries.
Politwoops in September responded by publishing an open letter asking Twitter to restore API access.
The archive for years had automatically monitored politicians’ Twitter profiles for deleted tweets and plucked them from the bin to make them visible for use by journalists or anybody else who wanted transparency into politicians’ flip-flopping.
When it launched in 2014, Diplotwoops did the same for the deleted tweets of diplomats and embassies.
Its founders didn’t care about trivial edits like fixed typos. Rather, the archives only tracked backtracking.
At the time it pulled Politwoops’ and Diplotwoops’ access, Twitter said that its decision followed a “thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors.”
The company called the notion of immutable and irrevocable tweeting “nerve-racking” and even “terrifying,” regardless of whether you’re talking about politicians or anybody else:
No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user’s voice.
On Thursday, the archives’ founders – the Open State Foundation – announced that Twitter had reversed its decision and that it’s spent the past few months hashing it out with the company.
On New Year’s Eve, Twitter agreed to restore Politwoops access to its API.
Neither Twitter nor the foundation has provided details on the agreement, which allows Politwoops to once again publish tweets that are published and then deleted by politicians and other elected officials.
But it did say that the agreement follows several meetings between itself, Twitter and two other organizations: the digital transparency group Sunlight Foundation and the digital rights group Access Now.
The meetings followed an apologetic statement made by Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey in October at the second annual Flight developer conference in San Fransisco.
From his remarks at the conference:
We have a responsibility to communicate our roadmap in a clear and transparent way to everyone in this community. We have a responsibility to have an open dialogue with you to make sure we are serving you in the best way. We have a responsibility to continue to empower organizations that bring more transparency to public dialogue, such as Politwoops.
We need to make sure we are serving all these organizations and developers in the best way, because that is what will make Twitter great. We need to listen, we need to learn, and we need to have this conversation with you. We want to start that today.
Like the Open State Foundation, Twitter didn’t offer any details about the agreement in a post it published on its blog on New Year’s Eve.
But Twitter did publish statements from the transparency organizations, including this one from Jenn Topper, communications director for The Sunlight Foundation:
Politwoops is an important tool for holding our public officials, including candidates and elected or appointed public officials, accountable for the statements they make, and we’re glad that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with Twitter to bring it back online both in the US and internationally.
Welcome to 2016: a year in which we can once again look forward to insights brought to us courtesy of Politwoops.
The re-emergence of tweets deleted from Donald Trump’s account alone make it cause for celebration, be they messages that feature Nazi soldiers pictured inside the US flag, that suggest Iowa voters are brain-damaged by genetically modified corn, or that Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her man.
It’s not clear when Politwoops will again start posting deleted tweets such as these.
The Sunlight Foundation said in a statement that “in the coming days and weeks, we’ll be working behind the scenes to get Politwoops up and running.”
The Open State Foundation said in its statement that it will relaunch Politwoops in the “coming months” in the more than 30 countries in which it had been available.
It’s also planning to add more countries to the list.
Image of gag courtesy of Shutterstock.
8 comments on “Politwoops’ archive of deleted tweets will soon be back after Twitter reopens API”
Still can’t stand this new website layout. Need to keep it simple and clean.
Sorry to hear you don’t like it.
Ironically, however, quite a number of people have emailed us to say they love it…because it’s much simpler and cleaner than the old layout, and therefore (they say) a lot easier to read.
(For the record: I didn’t mind the old layout at all, but I found it rather cramped. I therefore prefer the new layout…which I can say with some objectivity, as I wasn’t involved in the redesign 🙂
Since the new website design topic has been raised…
1) I find it very difficult to read the pale-blue-on-white quotations. Could you please use a higher-contrast color scheme?
2) I often fail to notice that there are article comments because there’s so much content between the article and comments sections. There’s the Twitter buttons, the subject tags, tools icons, links to predecessor and successor articles, author bio, and subscription dialog.
Thanks for the feedback – I’ll make sure everyone here sees it.
On the quotations: in my browser, they are grey, not blue, and so the contrast is OK, if not perfect. What browser are you using, and on which OS? (Having said that, I dislike the quotations because the typeface we use – which I love in its regular appearance – has what is to me a very hard to read and ill-spaced italic form, which may just be a synthetically-slanted version. Maybe we could try italic but black, or grey but not italic, for greater legibility?)
And, at least in the immediate term, so we don’t need to reorganise the bottom of the page too much, we could simply add a “Jump to comments (N)” if there are N comments, or “Add a comment” if you’d be the first. Also, I wonder if we could reintroduce the option to make the subscription dialog go away on request (and stay away while a cookie to that effect is set)?
I like black text. Black!.
Easy to read, to print, black!
Not grey, black black text.
You can please some of the people some of the time, eh 😉
Laurence, THANK YOU for bringing up my two biggest beefs with the new format. Another issue, already resolved, was the lack of indication of comment threading… thanks for fixing that!
The quoted text, as I see it in SeaMonkey or Firefox under Windows 7, is what I would also call pale gray but with a bluish tinge to it; the coloration varies, no doubt, between monitors, video adapters, and settings. Regardless of the color, it is very pale!
As for the typeface, that seems to be an issue with your OS/browser, Paul. At least it’s not like that for me. Even with it zoomed to 300%, it still appears smoothly rendered with clean edges. Maybe that font family is not well-supported by Apple?
Paul, your idea on the comments sounds like a good answer to me, if we can’t just get the comments up “where they belong” 😉
I’m not saying those italics look jagged or rough. Just that I find that they look like the regular font but merely askew, and thus less legible.
Anyway, according to my browser, the colour is #98999A, which Keynote calls 53% white. Even changing that to 40% white made it IMO much easier to read, but still set it off from the body text nicely. Let’s see what the designer chaps say 🙂