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Library of Congress to stop full-Twitter archiving at 2017's end

The official archiver of everything important will start getting selective about saving tweets in 2018.

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The Library of Congress is getting picky about saving tweets.

Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

I'd completely forgotten that in 2010 the Library of Congress had been retroactively gifted the entire archive of public tweets since 2006 and that it had been collecting them since then. Now that the novelty's over, the LOC said on its blog Tuesday it will follow its usual policy of limiting collection to only tweets it deems significant. 

In a white paper (PDF) issued during the last week of December 2017, the library stated "Generally, the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy." That likely will not include tweetstorms about your iPhone battery.

The LOC doesn't document everything comprehensively, anyway. The move doesn't come as a surprise given the dramatic increase in tweet volume since 2016 and the corresponding decrease in signal-to-noise ratio. Also, the new 280-character limit pushes up the storage needs.

Besides, everything important is happening on Instagram these days, right?

The collection, which is targeted at researchers, will be locked down for a bit as the LOC tries to work out some technical details. It doesn't have an estimate on when it will reopen. When it does, I'm sure there are researchers who'll be happy they don't have to wade through all the detritus. 

In case you're wondering, the LOC's tweet on the subject was very low-key. 

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