Congress to Log Twitter

Privacy Should Trump Public Record

Last week, the U.S. Library of Congress officially Tweeted its plan to archive all Twitter.com records dating back to the site’s inception in 2006. Despite its honorable intention to capture and preserve American culture as it is made, the records would infringe on personal privacy.

In the past, the Library of Congress has cataloged media like the first draft of the Declaration of Independence and historically significant films and literature. Its move to permanently archive millions of personal updates — often detailing trivial daily thoughts — also debases the significance of other, more historical holdings.

Whether Tweets regarding one’s personal life are involved or not, the potential litigation that could result from dissatisfied users should be enough for the Library of Congress to at least open up the issue to a public forum.

Archiving the posts in the Library of Congress unjustly strips the site’s users of their ability to make posts visible only to users they’ve chosen, and to delete their accounts altogether — instead making every last 100-character rant indelible public property.

The announcement underscores the huge impact Twitter has had on American culture and communication. But having only just celebrated its fourth anniversary, Twitter has not stood the test of time and could eventually end up being just a passing fad — which the Library of Congress has no business in archiving.

—Andrew Kim

Staff Writer

Tweeters Are the New Thomas Jefferson

The new plan to archive all Tweets is borderline ridiculous. The word “tweet” alone drags a nail-on-chalkboard scratch across an institution of historical prestige.

However, as useless as the project seems, it poses no real invasion of privacy. Whether publicizing their opinions on health-care reform or the number of times they can burp the ABCs, Twitter junkies have full knowledge they’re handing over the rights to their daily musings to Twitter.com.

If Tweeters are willing to expose their innermost thoughts online, the Library isn’t crossing any new lines by using their stream of consciousness for good old-fashioned research.

It goes without saying that, most of the time, the grammatically obscene words of wisdom posted to the website — especially by our celebrity friends — fall in the category of meaningless gibberish. But, however superficial, the Twitter database is a telling chronicle of contemporary culture. There’s no harm in dusting off a corner in the country’s most highbrow library for the world’s least formal news outlet, especially when it comes to Internet phenomenons like the reaction to the Iranian election protests. Even if that also means constituting smart-phone bathroom updates as history.

—Kelsey Marrujo

Senior Staff Writer

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal