The US Library of Congress has decided not every tweet is worth saving after all

Some things aren’t meant to last forever.
Some things aren’t meant to last forever.
Image: AP Photo/Richard Drew
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

There was a time when the biggest library in the United States considered every tweet worth preserving. This year it changed its mind.

On Tuesday (Dec. 26), the Library of Congress (LOC) released an update (pdf) on its plan to archive all public tweets since Twitter’s founding in 2006. Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, the LOC will keep only newsworthy posts.

“After [Dec. 31], the Library will continue to acquire tweets but will do so on a very selective basis,” reads the release. “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.”

In 2010, Twitter gifted the LOC a copy of all tweets up to that point, and promised to pass along future tweets also. The library is now essentially declining Twitter’s generous “gift,” citing the platform’s doubled character count and 330 million monthly active users. (The library declined to comment on whether the high rigor of Twitter’s content went into their decision.)

As for the first 12 years of tweets, the LOC has yet to make those records public, and reiterated in its statement that there is no timeline for releasing them. Thankfully we know the LOC has preserved, for example, these outraged tweets about whether macarons are good or garbage, these deeply researched tweets debating whether Mary and Joseph were refugees, and these really additive tweets about whether millennials are a social blight.

Twitter users have until Dec. 31 to tweet their way into posterity. So for the next four days, go forth, and enrich the US’s lasting record with your banality.

This post was updated with comment from the Library of Congress.