Noting that Twitter initially gifted it the first four years of tweets from 2006 to 2010, the Library of Congress also acknowledged "an explosion in use" of social media over the past 12 years. "After this time, the Library will continue to acquire tweets but will do so on a very selective basis under the overall guidance provided in the Library's Collections Policy Statements and associated documents", they explained. The Library of Congress only archives websites on a selective basis, unlike the nonprofit, non-governmental organisation the Internet Archive, which has a much broader goal of archiving everything online with its Wayback Machine. Reaching out as far back as 2006 to retroactively incorporate older messages.
The library's decision, the result of a continuing evaluation of its practices, was driven by a number of factors, from the difficulty of maintaining the collection to the waning need for a comprehensive archive, the library said.
Twitter has since exploded in size (the company went public in November 2013) and so the volume of so-called tweet text flooding into the library's digital archives was growing exponentially, eventually becoming too much.
"The initiative was bold and celebrated among research communities", the blog post says. Tweets now are more often visual than simply textual. The collection as a whole will remain under embargo "until access issues can be resolved in a cost-effective and sustainable manner". "With social media now established, the Library is bringing its collecting practice more in line with its collection policies".
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For the last several years, the Library of Congress has archived almost every tweet ever made. But the Library of Congress will stop archiving every tweet on December 31, 2017.
The Library will continue to preserve and secure its collection of tweet text. Throughout its history, the Library has seized opportunities to collect snapshots of unique moments in human history and preserve them for future generations.
"The Twitter Archive may prove to be one of this generation's most significant legacies to future generations".