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Twitter Politics Your Rights Online

Twitter To Revive Politwoops, Archive of Politicians' Deleted Tweets (reuters.com) 106

An anonymous reader writes: Twitter shut down Politwoops, a network of deleted tweets from politicians, this summer with the statement: "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." To the joy of open-government advocates and with the help of government transparency nonprofits, Twitter says it will work to get Politwoops up and running again. "Politwoops is an important tool for holding our public officials, including candidates and elected or appointed public officials, accountable for the statements they make, and we're glad that we've been able to reach an agreement with Twitter to bring it back online both in the U.S. and internationally," said Jenn Topper, communications director for The Sunlight Foundation
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Twitter To Revive Politwoops, Archive of Politicians' Deleted Tweets

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  • I remember not being surprised when it was shut down and I find my surprise at this announcement tempered by the thought that there must be something else in play.

    I'm wondering if, during the period that it was shut down, that various political parties have been able to set up some sort of moderation program. This would operate such that a politicians tweets would first go to party central moderation for clearance for public submission.

    Nobody in the "free" world would do that you say? Well, people pretty mu

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @08:42AM (#51233995)

      That's a given, and I'd be surprised if it isn't like that already.

      The "problem" from the politician's point of view is that they cannot retroactively not have said something that WAS popular but isn't anymore. Populists are very eager to say whatever seems popular today, no matter who they piss off, only to turn around and proclaim the exact opposite the next day, relying (rightfully) on their voters not remembering what they said days before.

      That strategy doesn't work anymore when there is a perfect record of what was said.

      Still, I don't think that the reinstatement has anything to do with political parties now being better "shielded" against it. It was simply the squeaky wheel in action. Twitter got a request from political parties to take down that nuisance, so they did. Why? Because it's the easier thing to do for Twitter, if they have to decide between some noname twitter account and getting political powers up against them, you are simply gone. Then they noticed the stink this caused on other fronts, from various non-profits, who can really make your life miserable if they want to, along with the looming threat of vigilante activists that could aim at Twitter (now that there isn't a more promising target on the radar, any reason works), which has a bigger chance to cut into Twitter's bottom line than the hurt feelings of political parties who can't really do anything against them directly due to the 1st.

      So they reverse their stance and side with the other one. I wouldn't read any more into it, Twitter just sides with whoever can cause them more trouble if they don't get their way.

      • It also wouldn't be a huge surprise if experience suggested that the bad-PR tweets that actually gain traction are typically the ones that people capture and distribute in awful-mobile-app-screenshot form, rather than the systematic but mostly uninteresting automated collections of every tweet some twit attempted to untweet.

        If, in practice, the juiciest accidental honesty is already being captured manually you just end up looking like you have something to hide by selectively denying API access. Plus, in
        • Worse, still: What they twittered long before their political career started. Just imagine what idiocy we would have been spared if some president's exploits during his college years would have been easily accessible via ancient twitter posts.

    • by ComputerGeek01 ( 1182793 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @10:30AM (#51234371)

      It's ad revenue. Twitter finally noticed that the "tweets" that often get erased by these bozos are being captured on screenshots anyway and being shared via imgur or some other image hosting site so their action of taking this down over the summer had only a minimal net effect on protecting the people who complained about it. Now that they have started this branch of their service up again, there will be no need for anyone to screenshot and repost the offending comment so the revenue from the ads will go into Twitter's pockets instead of another sources.

      You only have to look at any major national newspaper's want ads to realise that "Political Twitter Correspondent" is an actual job. The candidates probably have some say in what gets posted, but they are not the ones typing this stuff out anymore then the actors who hire publicists to do the exact same thing.

  • Stupidity everywhere (Score:5, Informative)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @06:56AM (#51233789) Homepage Journal

    Sure, it would have taken a little bit more effort, but this sort of thing should have been built using the standard Twitter interface, just follow all politicians using multiple anonymous accounts and then note whatever they delete. Then it would have been secure against any bull the lead Twits might decide whether it be blatantly revoking their access or secretly moderating their access. And you can't really say no one expected there would be an attempt to shut it down.

    Another stupid thing is expecting to be able to publish something publicly, and then keep it a secret.

    Finally, the Twits thought they could shut down this service, even though lots of people wanted it and the only way to really stop it would be to shut down their own company entirely.

    • follow all politicians using multiple anonymous accounts and then note whatever they delete.

      The client ID of the application for archiving politicians' Tweets could be blocked, and the user account doing this following could be blocked. In addition, Twitter limits an account to following about 5,000 other accounts until the account itself has a substantial (undisclosed) number of followers. That limits the number of jurisdictions whose legislatures a single account can archive.

  • Truth (Score:5, Funny)

    by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <web@pineapple.vg> on Monday January 04, 2016 @07:25AM (#51233821) Homepage
    It is estimated that on average, deleted tweets by politicians contain exactly 10 times more truth than the ones they didn't delete
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      My worry is that this will just make politicians less honest and frank. They will carefully screen every tweet with a team of analysts first. Of course some do now, but this could make it worse.

      Maybe we need to accept that people make mistakes, and politicians aren't going to be perfect. Deleting tweets makes them more human and trustworthy, because anyone who never screws up isn't a real person.

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        I do wonder how things are operating at the Trump and Sanders campaigns but I have been in a few offices of state politicians in recent years and they have a "professional social media person" that does all the tweeting, facebook posting, etc. Other folks on the campaign team and maybe the candidate themselves occasional gives them a vague message to get out there, but that person chose the specific language, media platforms, etc.

        I highly doubt Hilliary, Jeb, Cruz, Christy etc do their own posts. So ther

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I'm pretty sure Trump runs his own Twitter account. I suppose it's possible his campaign staff has access to it too, but Trump's whole appeal is that he's honest. He says what he thinks and he doesn't apologize for it and that's what's winning him support.

          Sanders on the other hand is blatantly being run by a social media team. I'm unfortunate enough to have Bernheads as friends who constantly repeat the stupid crap Sanders posts so I end of having to see it all the freaking time. Apparently he signs the few

      • My worry is that this will just make politicians less honest and frank

        My worry is that this is not possible anymore.

      • We complain that politicians lie, but the ones that tell the truth never get elected.

      • My worry is that this will just make politicians less honest and frank.

        How could politicians possibly be less honest?

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      Maybe my high school math is failing me, but ten times zero ...

  • by Snufu ( 1049644 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @07:38AM (#51233837)

    is Twitter itself.

    We should be discomfited if not greatly concerned that arguably our most precious possession, speech, is arbitrated by private companies like Twitter and Facebook.

    • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

      No one is forcing you to use said private companies services. Don't like terms and conditions? Stay away.

      • No one is forcing you to use said private companies services. Don't like terms and conditions? Stay away.

        Yes, you're free to do that on an individual basis. However, if we reach a situation where the bulk of the population depends on these services to express themselves then society in general may potentially have a problem. My initial objection to Facebook was that it's a sort of privately controlled "sub-internet" where people make a Facebook page that they don't really control instead of a webpage that they can fully control. Of course Facebook is also much more than that, because people's profiles are link

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "If you don't want to be spied on don't use a phone." At some point telephones went from a private service offered by a private entity to being something considered basic. We now find it horrifying that AT&T et al can listen to our phone calls, randomly disconnect us, route calls to where ever they want. Hey they are private businesses so what expectation of privacy do you have right?

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @09:17AM (#51234107)

    Until some politician like this [twitchy.com] claims "harassment" because their malicious tweets are permanent parts of the public record. Never mind the fact that a lot of politicians could stand to take a heaping dose of "harassment" for the garbage that they spew and do on a regular basis. When the right one, probably a liberal democrat, crybullies Twitter hard enough, they'll pull the plug.

    Because that's what they do. This is a site that banned Milo Yiannopoulos for a while, but has never touched Randi Harper's accounts despite the fact that the former is a journalist and the latter a female troll so bad that a major open source community was willing to risk opprobrium by asking her to leave.

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

    in the tricky world of social media, You can call your product "customers" and insist theyre a close friend of the brand. you can insist your "service" is in fact to their benefit for communication when in fact it is merely a portal into which you collect their content. But the real danger comes when a majority of the cattle consider your social media offering a democratic and/or community project outside your definitions of the words.

    twitter, facebook, instagram --any social site really-- operates on t

  • There is a vicious rumour that he once said something sensible. That could totally ruin his reputation.
  • "Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable? "

    Like Slashdot?

    That is, if you aren't the 'church' of Scientology.

  • Seems like some politicians could use this to their own advantage. Post duplicate mundane tweets like "I voted 'No' on HB 121", then delete the extra. Then this Twitter feed basically becomes a second sounding board for their actual Tweets. Took me about 10 seconds to figure out how to game this, should probably only take the average politician a few days.
  • Imagine a world where you are accountable for what you say on the internet!
    • Imagine a world where a fleeting indiscretion is worth a life sentence. People with bladder problems already have to deal with this when a first offense of public urination lands them on the sex offender registry.

      • I think that you raise a valid point, one that indicates a greater problem that exists within our society. For every one person who has suffered the wrath of stigma because of circumstances beyond their control, there are millions of "my-poop-don't-stink" types of people that will be there to kick them while the they're down.
  • Twitter said: "deleting a tweet is an expression of the user's voice"

    This is so funny I don't even know where to begin.

  • by KermodeBear ( 738243 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @02:18PM (#51236175) Homepage

    ...where what you say in public can be recorded and kept indefinitely.

    Like the evening news. Or some person with a cell phone recording a speech. Or you publish an article in a magazine or newspaper.

    Hey, so, like, when you put something out for the public, then it's... public.

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

    Like posting on /. ?

  • Every tweet IS immutable and irrevocable. Click 'delete' all you want - once Twatter has your data, it never forgets. This is true of all adsurveillance-funded "free" services.

    Dissident subjects of financial-totalitarian surveillance states would do well to observe an old Vatican maxim: Think much, speak little, write nothing down.

  • "Imagine how nerve-racking -- terrifying, even -- being a politician would be if they were held accountable for what they said?"

    FTFY.

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