Run by Washington, DC-based nonprofit Sunlight Foundation, Politwoops used Twitter’s API to build an archive of tweets – from simple typos to embarrassing gaffes – posted and then deleted by U.S. politicians. The service, which launched in 2012, was part of Politwoops’ efforts to promote political transparency, and one that it hoped would give “a more intimate perspective on our politicians and how they communicate with their constituents.”
Politwoops encouraged its followers to “explore the tweets they would prefer you couldn’t see,” but in May Twitter blocked access to its API, saying that posting deleted tweets of any user violates its 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,” Twitter said at the time.
However, on Thursday the social media company said it’d reached an agreement with Politwoops that allows it to relaunch its service.
A message from Twitter on Thursday suggests Jack Dorsey, who took over as permanent CEO of the company in October, is behind the about face. The message includes an excerpt from a speech given by Dorsey at an event in October where he said his company has “a responsibility to continue to empower organizations that bring more transparency to public dialogue, such as Politwoops.”
Dorsey continued, “We need to make sure we are serving all these organizations and developers in the best way, because that is what will make Twitter great. We need to listen, we need to learn, and we need to have this conversation with you. We want to start that today.”
Responding to Twitter’s decision to reinstate Politwoops, Jenn Topper, communications director for the Sunlight Foundation, described the archiving service as “an important tool for holding our public officials, including candidates and elected or appointed public officials, accountable for the statements they make,” adding, “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.”
No date has been given for Politwoops return, but with the build-up to November’s presidential election now well underway, it’s surely a case of “the sooner, the better.”