- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:


Anthony Weiner can now rest easy: Twitter is shutting down a tool that allowed a government watchdog group to bring to light tweets that lawmakers posted but then quickly deleted.

The watchdog group, Sunlight Foundation, had kept track of deleted tweets after being granted access to Twitter’s “application program interface,” or API. But the social media company will no longer have access now that Twitter has locked the door.

“Earlier today we spoke to the Sunlight Foundation, to tell them we will not restore Twitter API access for their Politwoops site,” Twitter said in a statement. 

“We strongly support Sunlight’s mission of increasing transparency in politics and using civic tech and open data to hold government accountable to constituents, but preserving deleted Tweets violates our developer agreement. Honoring the expectation of user privacy for all accounts is a priority for us, whether the user is anonymous or a member of Congress.”

Sunlight posted deleted tweets in a weekly file called “Politwoops.” The organization, which noted last week that the “U.S. version of Politwoops is sadly enduring an outage that’s causing a lack of new deletions on the site,” listed some of its more interesting deletions.

“Six politicians delete tweets welcoming home Taliban prisoner Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Congressman deletes his reaction to gunfire on Capitol Hill. Congressman uses a deleted tweet to get media attention. ‘I voted yes’ tweet deleted after member votes no.”

Said Sunlight after the shutdown: “From the moment the project launched exactly three years ago tomorrow, journalists recognized the importance and usefulness of tracking messaging changes from politicians. … When some news networks announced a Supreme Court decision incorrectly, Politwoops collected the revoked reactions of politicians, and The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal covered their mood swings. The Associated Press, Washington Times and many others were able to cover the tumultuous political messaging battle over the terms of the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl by the Taliban. …

“While there are not currently new deletions on Politwoops, we’re still closely tracking politicians to include on the site. Please check who we follow and email us if you see someone we’re missing.

 

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