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"Social media is not 'too big to moderate;' it takes time, money, and resources to effectively manage social media content".

Deciding what pieces of the internet to archive has been an ongoing project and debate for the Library of Congress.

The service has also shrunk the distance between the anonymous and the famous, the frivolous and the serious. The volume of tweets the Library receives each day has grown from 140 million beginning in February 2011 to almost half a billion tweets each day as of October 2012.

"The Library generally does not collect comprehensively", the white paper reads.

This year, the former President Obama's tweet about unity is the most liked tweet. But more to the point, many tweets would seem downright nonsensical and pointless when separated from crucial audio or visual cues. Then, the most retweeted tweet was from a teenager who appealed to have a year's worth of free chicken nuggets.

This won't really change anything as far as your ability to peruse a massive, comprehensive Twitter archive, to be clear, because that ability has never materialized. First and foremost from a collection perspective: the sheer number of tweets. As society turns to social media as a primary method of communication and creative expression, social media is supplementing, and in some cases supplanting, letters, journals, serial publications and other sources routinely collected by research libraries. Given the unknown direction of social media when the gift was first planned, the Library made an exception for public tweets. In 2010, Twitter recorded half a billion tweets posted every 14 days.

Twitter has gone from processing about 5,000 tweets a day in 2007, to more than 50 million tweets daily when it partnered with the Library of Congress in 2010. Furthermore, the tweets are now longer than they were before. "As a result of the review, the Library has determined that its initial Twitter collection will consist of a twelve-year snapshot of the beginning of one of social media's most important and transformative communication tools", it said in a white paper explaining the decision. In the meantime, the LOC still hasn't decided how best to provide the public with access to all the tweets it now has.

"The Library will continue to preserve and secure its collection of tweet text".

The library is still working on making the archive public; it's offered no time table on when it'll be available, but hundreds of researchers have requested access to the collection.

The archive "will remain embargoed until access issues can be resolved in a cost-effective and sustainable manner", Osterberg said. The institution is also working with Twitter on how to handle public tweets that were later deleted.


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