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Where Was Every Public Tweet Saved From 2006 to 2017?

Margaret Lipman
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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If you were active in the early years of Twitter, your words have been deemed worthy of inclusion in the Library of Congress. That venerable institution stored every public tweet sent out between 2006 and 2017 when it adopted a policy of only saving Twitter posts “on a selective basis.”

From January 1, 2018, Twitter shifted to archiving tweets relating to noteworthy events such as “elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g., public policy.”

There were several reasons for the change, primarily focused on the sheer volume and the changing nature of tweets. In 2017, the maximum length of Twitter posts was expanded from 140 to 280 characters (though most tweets were far, far shorter). That year, the number of tweets sent annually reached a whopping 200 billion. By the late 2010s, the platform had increasingly moved away from solely text-based tweets to images, videos, and links, which the library was not saving, thus losing out on much of the context of the tweets. The shift also brought the library’s social media archive in line with its usual practices, which typically don’t feature comprehensive collections from a single source.

The Library of Congress was given a head start on collecting tweets in April 2010, when Twitter donated a complete archive of the platform’s tweets beginning with its inception in 2006. With the support of Twitter, the library continued to save tweets until the end of 2017, when the collection reached into the hundreds of billions, serving as a digital time capsule of the extraordinary first decade of a social media giant and, more importantly, an emerging method of communication that came to dominate cultural and political discourse.

Terrific tweets:

  • Although the Library of Congress initially intended to make 12 years’ worth of tweets available to the public, access has been limited due to issues related to the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of the project.

  • In addition to tweets and other social media posts, the Library of Congress has been collecting thousands of web pages relating to U.S. government activity since 2000. It’s estimated that this archive is hundreds of terabytes in size, dwarfing the data size of the library’s entire printed book collection.

  • Elon Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter in October 27, 2022, becoming the new owner and CEO of Twitter, Inc. The platform was rebranded to “X” in July 2023, coinciding with the succession of Linda Yaccarino as CEO.

  • The very first tweet, posted to Twitter on March 21, 2006, was authored by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and read “just setting up my twttr.” In 2021, that tweet was sold as a non-fungible token (NFT) in a charity auction to a Malaysia-based businessman for around $2.9 million. Clearly elated at his purchase, buyer Sina Estavi posted on Twitter, “This is not just a tweet! I think years later people will realize the true value of this tweet, like the Mona Lisa painting.”

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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