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Twitter Blocks API Access For Sites Monitoring Politicians' Deleted Tweets 114

An anonymous reader writes: Politwoops is/was a site that monitored the Twitter feeds of politicians and posted any tweets that those politicians later deleted. On May 15, Twitter suspended API access for the U.S. version of Politwoops, and now they've blocked access to the versions of Politwoops running in 30 other countries. Twitter has also blocked access for similar site Diplotwoops, which focused on deleted tweets from diplomats and embassies. Twitter said, "'Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable? No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user's voice." Arjan El Fassed, director of the Open State Foundation, which developed Politwoops, disagrees: "What politicians say in public should be available to anyone. This is not about typos but it is a unique insight on how messages from elected politicians can change without notice."
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Twitter Blocks API Access For Sites Monitoring Politicians' Deleted Tweets

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  • Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fey000 ( 1374173 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @09:38AM (#50379485)

    If there is one thing politicians need less of, it's personal responsibility.

    Imagine a world where politicians could be judged not only by what they say in front of the reporters, but also by their actions and behaviour outside of PR-dictated statements. Sounds horrible, right? It's a good thing Twitter has stepped in to make sure that doesn't happen.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      a lot of these are tweeted by interns because the actual politicians are working. no reason to jump on someone for saying the wrong thing on a slow news day
      • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @09:50AM (#50379593) Homepage Journal

        "a lot of these are tweeted by interns" ... "no reason to jump on someone for saying the wrong thing on a slow news day"

        I disagree. Shouldn't a politician also be judged by the quality of people they appoint and how they respond to inept and irresponsible actions by them?

        • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

          Shouldn't a politician also be judged by the quality of people they appoint and how they respond to inept and irresponsible actions by them?

          Shouldn't a voter also be judged by the quality of people they elect and how they respond to inept and irresponsible actions by them?

          • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @11:00AM (#50380111) Homepage Journal

            I don't trust most voters. I believe them to be blissfully ignorant.

            If I could "make @&^% happen" I would force a simple test for people wishing to cast a ballot.

            Something like: "Who is your current city assemblyman?". Even make it multiple choice. If you can't answer, you cant vote for your districts assemblyman. Same for all other offices state and federal. *

            Also, don't include a list of what each "Prop" is pro or con. Just a question: "Which is Prop 205?" -- and you select from a multiple choice (the actual text of the prop) -- if you get it right, you get to vote yes/no on it.

            Voting should not be easy. It should be hard. Get rid of "mail in voting" for all except those who are really out of the country or home/hospital bound. It'll weed out those who really don't give a crap. I believe it would have the added effect of limiting influence of "money" on campaigns since only those who have really taken the time to learn who their representatives are and/or local propositions are will be likely to cast a ballot.

            * allow for some exceptions -- say for "new to district" folks.

            • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

              by pnutjam ( 523990 )
              Don't forget the 2nd question, "are you white?"

              I think we should go the other way and make voting mandatory, at the very least it should be a federal holiday.
              • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @02:31PM (#50382195) Homepage Journal

                'Don't forget the 2nd question, "are you white?"'

                Cute -- and people usually go there. You might make the argument that my suggestion for props might be a "literacy" test and perhaps you are right. Again, if you can't read the documentation on props how can you cast an informed vote? With regards to your representative -- you just need to recognize a name. There's no difference NOW going in other than if you can't recognize the name on the screen/ballot NOW, how would someone illiterate cast a vote? And any other jim-crow crap doesn't really apply to my suggestion.

                How is asking who your Representative currently is targeting anyone's race? Or even education level? The only group it targets are those who aren't interested enough to be familiar with what their representatives are doing or what props they are voting for/against. I think this is a general 'good'.

                Seriously? How can you expect democracy to work when people randomly "check boxes"? The only people who should vote are those that care enough to be familiar with what their government is doing. Otherwise, just roll dice.

                • by lott11 ( 1516269 )
                  In what country, do think you are living in! you are living in a republic read and be a little bit more in formed. A democracy your vote means something in a republic it is just an opinion. That being said, why is the US in the state that it is in, your vote dose not matter at all. It is what interest are being paid for and by whom. That is it lobbyist have the power to change all laws, not the public. It has been like that since the beginning, read the so call constitution it is there in black & white.
            • While I understand that your motivations are honorable, you have to realize that such a thing will never happen because the sentiment that "voting should not be easy" has been historically equivalent to "voting should only be done by white male landowners."

              • by Jhon ( 241832 )

                "you have to realize that such a thing will never happen because the sentiment that "voting should not be easy" has been historically equivalent to "voting should only be done by white male landowners.""

                Oh I realize it. I question if it will "never" happen but have no illusions about how incredibly unlikely it is.

                If we did a decent job educating our population about our nations founding we would have a better understanding of the dangers of democracy. We have a democratic republic not to give people the v

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Shouldn't a politician also be judged by the quality of people they appoint and how they respond to inept and irresponsible actions by them?

            Shouldn't a voter also be judged by the quality of people they elect and how they respond to inept and irresponsible actions by them?

            No one judges voters. Voters simply have to live with the consequences of their actions, which Twitter decided politicians don't. The problem I have with this is that it's too easy to dismiss a misleading quote or a dangerous quote to an intern.

            A politician is also a manager who is responsible for the actions of their subordinates. You can't have the power without responsibility.

      • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

        the buck stops at the top. Notwithstanding that the top never gets it in the neck, it's usually some low-paid intern that gets it, in every other sector apart from politics if something goes South the Directorship answers for it.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          LOLWUT? There is no American institution that gets it at the top unless it has ethics, which is in short supply in American institutions these days. I agree with your sentiment wholeheartedly and wish it were the case, but it has not been so for a very long time. Those days went out with Reagan and the baby boomers taking over. The baby boomers ruined America and it will take some time for the rest of us to clean up their mess.

      • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @09:58AM (#50379645) Homepage

        Perhaps the politicians shouldn't rely on interns to be their voice then.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Perhaps the politicians shouldn't rely on interns to be their voice then.

          This.

          If you fire up a Twitter representing yourself, use your own fucking voice already.

          And Twitter is designed for the lazy with its character limitations, so don't give me this "I don't have time" bullshit. Speak for yourself. Those who follow you just might respect you for it.

          • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

            And Twitter is designed for the lazy with its character limitations

            Not really for the lazy. It was designed with the 140 character limit when tweets were originally entered via SMS messages, leaving a little extra for the user's name and not going over the 160 character limit for a single message.

      • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:16AM (#50379777)

        a lot of these are tweeted by interns because the actual politicians are working.

        Handing a critical communication tool to an intern is a pretty dumb decision. But if the intern then says something stupid on the politician's behalf then the politician needs to own that because it is the actions of those who work for you are your responsibility.

        no reason to jump on someone for saying the wrong thing on a slow news day

        I don't care how fast or slow the news day is. If they said something or allowed it to be said on their behalf then they need to own it.

        • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

          Twitter is critical communication tool?

          • Twitter is critical communication tool?

            Yes. In today's world Twitter is important. So is Facebook. So is email. Etc. Things said on twitter are just as important as those things said through any other medium, particularly for a politician. If they underestimate the important then that is their own stupid fault.

            • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

              Treating social media that way is a bad idea for a whole bunch of reasons. One, Twitter can alter their service at any point, as evidenced by this story. You can't have a transparent government with communication channels that delete information. The issue with the IRS and Hillary Clinton are bad enough as it is. Facebook is a horrible communication mechanism considering you have to sell your soul to Facebook in order to create an account. Are you suggesting that the governed be walled off from their r

              • I don't know about the parent, but I'm suggesting that if your news about politics comes from Facebook or Twitter then you are far too poorly informed to vote rationally, and likely will not vote anyway.
          • This.

            Who gives a shit?

        • Handing a critical communication tool to an intern is a pretty dumb decision.

          Gee, and I was thinking defining Twitter as a "critical communication tool" was the dumb decision here.

          But if the intern then says something stupid on the politician's behalf then the politician needs to own that because it is the actions of those who work for you are your responsibility.

          Agreed, although if you're too damn lazy to maintain your own damn Twitter account, you should probably shut it down. I probably won't vote for you when you have to hire someone else to type 140 characters or less. Shows me what kind of money you're likely to piss away on stupid shit while in office.

          • Gee, and I was thinking defining Twitter as a "critical communication tool" was the dumb decision here.

            ANY communication tool is critical for a politician. The fact that most of what happens on Twitter is banal nonsense is irrelevant. The job of a politician, especially when seeking office, is communication with their electorate. If they choose to use Twitter then it is just as important as any other medium. Furthermore Twitter is hugely popular and widely used so it is a very useful too (if used well) to reach more voters. Politicians who ignore twitter and/or use it badly will find themselves at a dis

      • by Anonymous Coward

        a lot of these are tweeted by interns because the actual politicians are working. no reason to jump on someone for saying the wrong thing on a slow news day

        This fixes itself, if the tweet is attributed to the intern.

        "The Nazis were pretty cool. We need more people like them in government." -- George Washington's Intern

        "HOLY SHIT! George Washington, you are awful!" -- Public

        "I didn't say anything awful. Shit, I never even heard of Nazis until I got on this Internet thing." -- George Washington

        "Oh right. So

      • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

        They should also send their interns to debates. Then they'd get to the use same excuse there too!

      • Then I guess they shouldn't let interns do their speeches.

        But hey, that's a cool idea. I'll sit the intern in the next boring meeting and if he says something stupid I'll simply claim that it's not what I meant. Brilliant!

      • If that's the case, then maybe they should tweet under @PoliticianNamesStaff instead of @PoliticianName. Otherwise, PoliticianName is a fucking dumbass who deserves whatever he gets!

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Ignoring the political aspect for a moment, isn't this a simple TOS violation? Twitter offer a feature (deleting tweets) and these guys are using their API access to subvert it. It's hardly surprising that they were blocked.

      Going back to the politics, are you arguing that Twitter should remove the delete button from its service? That would be fine of course, I'm just asking if you think that is what they should do, or if you think it should be up to third party services to selectively archive everything cer

      • Ignoring the political aspect for a moment, isn't this a simple TOS violation? Twitter offer a feature (deleting tweets) and these guys are using their API access to subvert it. It's hardly surprising that they were blocked.

        Twitter is claiming they have a feature - taking back something after it has been published on the Internet - which they have no way of delivering. Politwoops highlighted this fact. So no, it's not surprising they got blocked.

        Going back to the politics, are you arguing that Twitter shou

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sourceforge with it's crapware, now twitter (who once helped spread several revolutions in the middle east), is helping filthy scumbag politicians? I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
  • Thank GOD. (Score:5, Funny)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @09:42AM (#50379521) Homepage
    Someone if finally protecting our most vulnerable citizens - the politicians that make the law.

    Our long nightmare of people being punished for things they actually said is over!.

    Thank you Twitter.

    Now, we can finally get back to using twitter to mob-shame some poor guy that was overheard making a joke about pedophilia that some moron thought was almost heard clearly from 100 ft away on a crowded train station.

  • WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot@@@keirstead...org> on Monday August 24, 2015 @09:42AM (#50379523) Homepage

    "Imagine how nerve-racking â" terrifying, even â" tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?"

    Umm... you mean like all other speech?

    There is no "undo" button for life Twitter. Deal with it.

    I don't even know why the "Delete" button exists in Twitter, because it is stupid and doesn't do much. Various clients allow you to ignore it totally and keep the deleted tweet in your cache.

    • > I don't even know why the "Delete" button exists in Twitter, because it is stupid and doesn't do much. Various clients allow you to ignore it totally and keep the deleted tweet in your cache.

      Well they're all violating the ToS as well and will probably get their API access revoked also.

      • Fuck the TOS! Twitter is trying to set itself up as some sort of Orwellian Ministry of Truth, so violating its TOS in that way is a moral imperative.

      • But that's Twitter's loss at the end of the day. An API is mutually beneficial to Twitter and the other party. Forcing them to scrape pages the hard way just puts more load on Twitter.
    • "Umm... you mean like all other speech?" I have an ancestor who contained speech that was deleted by Henry the VIII. Deleting speech becomes a lot more valuable and a lot more costly as you gain power.
  • Not News (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @09:47AM (#50379567) Journal

    It's part of the API ToS you sign up for when using the Twitter API. If you get a delete event, you're supposed to remove the referenced tweet.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      My client keeps a copy of the deleted tweet just to make sure that it's deleted. After all, you have to have the deleted tweet in order to know whether or not you've deleted it correctly. Best to keep it just to be sure.

    • Re:Not News (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:42AM (#50379975) Journal
      No such requirement exists, however, to simply visit someone's Twitter page. I see this (extremely valuable) tool as likely rewritten into a straightforward page-scraper by the end of the day. Block that, Twitter!

      Hell, I might rewrite it as such if I have a slow afternoon.

      We don't need no stinkin' TOS to load a public website!
      • No such requirement exists, however, to simply visit someone's Twitter page. I see this (extremely valuable) tool as likely rewritten into a straightforward page-scraper by the end of the day. Block that, Twitter!!

        I was imagining a new app where each client generates their own API key and then tweets are automatically forwarded to a third party aggregator.

        There would be no central account to block.

  • by ihtoit ( 3393327 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @09:49AM (#50379583)

    It'll email you not only the date and time of the message - any message - from certain individuals or using certain hashtags, it'll send you the entire content of he message as it goes out - even if it's later deleted, it's still in your inbox.

    What're Twitter going to do, block Google??

  • by Coisiche ( 2000870 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @09:54AM (#50379613)

    I read the statement linked in the summary and immediately wondered, what was the deleted tweet that brought the pressure on Twitter to do this?

    I'm pretty sure there has to be one. Either that or someone with a lot of influence was worried that they might tweet carelessly.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @09:57AM (#50379633) Journal

    Politicians are not any old user. They sought power and we want to track them; they have their thumb on our neck artery, and can press at will, especially in many of these other countries.

    It is important to know their thoughts -- before handlers and lawyers buff them up or delete them.

    Shame on you.

  • Okay, so EU is demanding not only right to firget, but right to eliminate right to forget memory, now apparently politicians can unsay something they've said.

    Think of that. A politician can say something, then thanks to the intertoobz, he or she never ever said what he or she ever said. That deleted tweet says more about reality and the politician's actual thoughts than any prepared speech.

    Has the Ministry of Truth weighed in on this? I bellyfeel doubleunplusgood!

  • Political or not, keeping deleted tweets is against the Terms of Service. No need to jump up and down and cry foul just because the summary mentioned political tweet apps that were shutdown. Nobody is supposed to be doing it.
    Jump up and down if other clients are doing it and not getting banned.
  • Ministry of Truth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:02AM (#50379671) Journal

    I guess someone from the Ministry of Truth complained. Rewriting history is hard when all the old editions are laying around.

    Its not stopping the common core people from trying though.

  • Own what you say (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:03AM (#50379679)

    Twitter said, "'Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?

    And why shouldn't it be terrifying? If you don't mean it then don't say it. If you said something stupid or embarrassing then explain it but own what you said. They SHOULD be careful about what they say in public just like when they say something to a TV camera or a reporter. I've said things on the internet that in hindsight I could have said better but the fact is that I said it and I have to own it.

    • I mean ... what web-site now-a-days WOULDN'T have an Edit or Delete button and still get comments. :looks down at Slashdot toolbar:

  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:04AM (#50379685)
    In other news, Hillary Clinton has declared that going forward all of her official correspondence will be carried out via Twitter.
  • How many libraries of congress is that!?!? Oh wait, we're not talking about network traffic here. But, we ARE talking about archiving and searching through tweets. So the question comes up: the library of congress is archiving all public tweets. Do they honor the fact they're deleted off of the source material? And how easy would it be to search the library's archive vs Twitter's archive?

    https://www.facebook.com/notes... [facebook.com]

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @10:39AM (#50379945)

    ... all the sites have to do is collect information under a different name then copy paste the info to the new site.

    What is twitter going to do.

    And even if they suspend API access entirely... all someone has to do is write a program that checks the twitter accounts. download everything, and then notes whenever a tweet disappears.

    I don't know what twitter is thinking.

    Censorship... which is what they're attempting to do... is generally a losing proposition on the internet.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is the #1 reason I think DRM is bad. As all video moves to the net at some point all news will be DRMed and easily deletable by those in power

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A simple site scrape is enough. The API just makes it easier.

  • They need to rename the "Delete" button to "Memory Hole."

  • Fuck twitter. I only use it to swear at politicians.
  • by Experiment 626 ( 698257 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @12:00PM (#50380593)
    We have always been at war with Eastasia. I challenge anyone to find a tweet where I have ever claimed otherwise.
    • by nucrash ( 549705 )

      I can't. I swear, yesterday we were at war with Eurasia, but that must have been a lie for Eurasia have always been our allies.

  • by chilenexus ( 2660641 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @12:48PM (#50381043)
    Can you imagine the sheer horror of politicians who would be forced to think about what they say before letting it escape their mouths or before they click the submit button on their computers?

    If they have an intern sending their tweets, are these people so short on time that they don't have time to personally view and approve messages before they are broadcast to the entire world? If they don't understand the consequences of using a communications tool, perhaps they shouldn't be using it? Or perhaps they should be employing some more mature and trustworthy interns? Or perhaps ones that can explain the Streisand effect to them?
  • So now tweets can be abused as test balloons to "test the waters", so to speak. Is some atrocity that I have planned going to be noticed? Are people going to object? I'll just tweet it and if a shitstorm brews, whoopsie, erase. Let's wait a little longer 'til they're distracted by something else.

    Yeah, that's what we need more of. More politicians spewing random shit to see what's going to stick and how far the FUD campaign has progressed so we swallow their tripe.

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Monday August 24, 2015 @01:32PM (#50381569) Homepage

    Years ago I used an email system that had a retract option. But all it would do is send a specially crafted email that requested that the user delete the original email. Nothing was more effective at drawing peoples attention to a mistake.

  • "Imagine how nerve-racking [sic] – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?" Don't have to imagine -- Say the wrong thing today or make a joke nobody gets, and you've got a self-righteous, over-caffeinated lynch mob of simplistic-thinking morons doxxing you, getting you fired or forcing your business to close etc.
  • Coming up we have other breaking news. The earth has mass, and studies show that people sometimes do and say things they wish they hadn't. Wait a moment, this just in: Barbara Streisand sues photographer Kenneth Adelman for violation of privacy, because his aerial photography to track coastal erosion included her Malibu home in one of his 12,000 photographs. Before Streisand filed her lawsuit, the image was viewed on the photographer's web site six times, two of which were by Streisand's attorneys, and with
  • Paraphrasing: Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – posting to Slashdot would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?

    This is idiotic. Once you say something, it has been said. Thinking you can hide your output is ridiculous, and could only be hatched in the minds of liars.

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