The Library of Congress will no longer be vacuuming up all your tweets for historical preservation.
On Tuesday, the federal research library said it’s ending the practice of collecting all public tweets made over the platform. “Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the Library will acquire tweets on a selective basis,” it said in a blog post.
It may sound odd, but since 2010 the library has been archiving your silly jokes and trolling on Twitter, in addition to any tweets of historical importance.
The intent has been to preserve the history of US social media and how it’s evolved. Future scholars will have access to a collection that’ll offer a glimpse of American society during the early 21st century. The archive itself spans a 12-year period that traces back to when Twitter first came online in 2006.
However, the amount of information in the archive has been huge. In 2013, the library said it had been collecting half a billion tweets per day.
In a white paper released on Tuesday, the Library of Congress indicated that the growing volume of tweets had become too overwhelming to store. It also hasn’t helped that Twitter has doubled the size of a single tweet to 280 characters.
Nevertheless, the library’s existing collection offers a “snapshot” of a unique moment in history, it said. In the future, the institution will narrow its focus to collecting tweets tied to major historical events such as elections or national matters of public policy.
The library is still working on making the archive public; it’s offered no time table on when it’ll be available, but hundreds of researchers have requested access to the collection.
Unfortunately, the Library of Congress has only been collecting the text from tweets, so none of your funny GIFs, image-based memes or videos will have been preserved through the archive. The institution is also working with Twitter on how to handle public tweets that were later deleted.