May 23, 2022

Boo! “Twitter’s Terrible Decision to Block Politwoops”

UPDATE 3:00 PM The Sunlight Foundation has posted, “Eulogy for Politwoops”
The eulogy includes one of the same questions we ask below:

We are truly mystified as to what prompted the change of heart, and it’s deeply disappointing to see Twitter kill a project they had supported since 2012. It is also disturbing to us that our feed was cut almost three weeks ago and our only direct communication came from Twitter last night, when we were told that their decision was not something that we could appeal, and, most surprisingly, they were not interested in reviewing any of the email conversation from 2012. Clearly, something changed — and we’re not likely to ever know what it was.

From The Washington Post:

Gawker reported Wednesday evening that Twitter pulled the plug on Politwoops, a site created by the Sunlight Foundation to track things that American politicians had tweeted and then deleted. Often what Politwoops captured were deleted typos or accidental re-tweets. On occasion, it was something more intriguing.


To capture these tweets, Politwoops relied on Twitter’s application program interface, a sort of socket for programmers to use to run automated tools. In this case, Politwoops would catalog new tweets from politicians, and, if one was deleted, publish it. Human involvement was minimal.

“[P]reserving deleted Tweets violates our developer agreement,” Twitter told Gawker, explaining why Politwoops was no longer working. “Honoring the expectation of user privacy for all accounts is a priority for us, whether the user is anonymous or a member of Congress.” In other words, Twitter had a rule, and Politwoops broke it.

Read the Complete Article

Two Comments by Gary Price (infoDOCKET Founder/Editor)

1. The original Politwoops website was launched in the Netherlands (before the U.S. version) and there are Politwoops sites for monitoring deleted tweets of legislators from around the globe. We spot checked several of these sites and they appear to be live. Why did Twitter only take down the Sunlight Fdn./U.S. version?

2. The Politwoops version for the U.S. (run by the Sunlight Foundation) has been around for years. Why did Twitter decide to stop it now?

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.