Twitter cuts off contentious politics websites' access

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Politwoops - the site that made politicians' deleted tweets visible (Picture: Screenshot/politwoops.eu). Politwoops - the site that made politicians' deleted tweets visible (Picture: Screenshot/politwoops.eu)

Twitter revoked the ability of several websites to easily collect tweets deleted by politicians, the Open State Foundation announced on Sunday. The Netherlands-based organization ran Politwoops, for messages posted by politicians, and Diplotwoops, featuring bumbling remarks from diplomats, in multiple countries before Twitter dropped the group's API access on Friday.

The sites made deleted tweets available by first fetching them using the API, or application programming interface, which gives authorized developers access to the social media service's data.

Twitter stated this decision was made after "thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors," according to the Foundation. "Imagine how nerve-racking - terrifying, even - tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?" Twitter wrote to them. "No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user's voice."

Politwoops was founded in the Netherlands in 2010 and was taken over by the Open State Foundation. Since then it was further developed and spread to 30 countries, including the Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom, the Vatican and the European Parliament. The American version was already shut down in May. Diplotwoops launched last year.

The Open State Foundation, a foundation that promotes digital transparency, writes that they are continuing to explore ways to keep public messages by elected politicians visible. What elected politicians publicly say is a matter of public record. "Even when tweets are deleted, it's part of parliamentary history." Arjan El Fassed, director of the Foundation, . "What politicians say in public should be available to anyone. This is not about typos but it is an unique insight on how messages from elected politicians can change without notice."

According to the Foundation, the Politwoops and Diplotwoops sites have been extensively used and cited by journalists around the world.

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