Twitter Archive

I wanted to respond to a topic brought up in in V’s post “Twitter as a Primary Source,” specifically the portion that cited this article from the Library of Congress. It is concerning to think that there is such a thing as a “Twitter Archive” and that tweets are being preserved for future generations to see the mundane updates of our day-to-day lives. The Library of Congress article argues “Twitter will be one of the most informative resources available on modern day culture, including economic, social and political trends, as well as consumer behavior and social trends.” Twitter, with its addition to the ranks of the material in the Library of Congress, can be viewed as an electronic nonfiction source. Everything we tweet will be saved forever and will be later used in anthropological studies in order to analyze and classify our generation. V made a valid point by advising “before you tweet make sure it’s something you’re willing to have go down in history bearing your name,” however there are other concerns to take into consideration.

Possibly one of the reasons Twitter is so popular is that it is used by so many celebrities. Twitter users can follow their favorite movie stars and musicians the same way they follow people they actually know. These fans rest assured that these accounts are legitimate because celebrity pages are adorned with a validating blue check mark. What concerns me is that possibly that all the tweets from these certified accounts will forever be preserved in the Twitter Archive as autobiographical statements from these users. How can we be sure that the celebrities are even the ones tweeting? It is equally likely there is some Public Relations person or personal assistant working for the celebrity and posting updates for him or her in order to maintain good relations with his or her fan base.

I’m not bringing up this point to complain about celebrity authenticity but to draw attention to the fact that these 140 characters posts will forever be saved as primary sources from the respective individuals. Reference texts require citation in order to ensure their historical accuracy. I think these same standards should be held for any work of nonfiction. I’m not saying Twitter needs to using citations, I just think if it is going to be included in the Library of Congress it shouldn’t be classified as a primary source and it definitely should not be viewed as “one of the most informative resources.”

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