May 28, 2022

Deleted Doesn’t Mean Inaccessible: Search and Access Deleted Tweets By Politicians

About a month ago I shared some thoughts in this post about how difficult it is (impossible, really) to remove an item from the public and be confident that it is inaccessible to those who might want to read/view/listen to it.

In other words: once you click post/publish and the material becomes publicly accessible, you’ve lost full control of the item.

Many users often don’t realize this.

Attempts to remove material from the web are not only time consuming—there’s no way to be completely sure that it’s entirely gone even if it was publicly accessible for just a few seconds or minutes. In other words: it’s all but impossible.

Moreover, making a public plea to have the material removed will most likely draw more attention to what you might not want others to read/view/listen to in the first place.

In the article I also point out that having a link to an item removed from one search engine (most often Google) doesn’t remove automatically remove the link and the material itself from other search engines and their web caches.

Politwoops: Deleted Tweets Doesn’t Mean Inaccessible

Today, I want to point out a free online resource that makes deleted tweets from elected politicians from around the globe searchable and accessible named Politwoops.

In the U.S., Politwoops service is provided by the Sunlight Foundation and provides keyword seachable and browsable access to deleted tweets by members of the U.S. Congress, President Obama, and governors from all 50 states. Politwoops launched with deleted tweets from U.S. politicians about 11 months ago.

Tweets are often deleted for understandable reasons (spelling errors for example) but other times you can read what a politician is thinking before they (or a staff member) decide it’s not a good idea to share it publicly.  You might also find retweets that upon further review the politician or their staffs didn’t want to retweeted.

All deleted tweets include how long the tweet was available before it was deleted.  

Politwoops was originally developed in the Netherlands by the Open States Foundation.

The Politwoops service is available in a number of countries including:

Here’s a complete list of where Politwoops is available.

Bottom Line: Not only a valuable research tool but also very valuable when trying to demonstrate that deleting material on the web is very challenging if not impossible.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.