Twitter blocks Politwoops for tracking politicians’ deleted tweets

Brittany A. Roston - Jun 8, 2015, 5:43 pm CDT
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Twitter blocks Politwoops for tracking politicians’ deleted tweets

Everyone says something on a social network that they reconsider later on and delete — for most of us, though, that’s inconsequential and no one cares. For politicians, though, those deleted tweets are often the ones people are most interested in seeing; they might reveal something about a politician’s character or thought process, and influence the future of their career. Politwoops took the hassle out of finding them, recording deleted tweets from politicians for others to look up. Now Twitter has banned them.

Not all of the tweets are scandalous, of course — often a tweet is deleted because it was fired off too early, had a typo, or some other innocent mistake. You can check out a bunch of them on the Politwoops website to see for yourself. As you’ll notice, though, the last tweet you can see on Politwoops is front May 15. This is because Twitter has blocked the service.

As Gawker noted last week, Politwoops indicated Twitter was responsible, saying that it was trying to get through with Twitter’s support to resolve the problem. It seemed at the time, though, that Twitter had pulled Politwoops’ Twitter API permissions.

The move, it seems, was because Twitter’s policy regarding usage of its API was not being followed: it explicitly requires services to “execute the unfavorite and delete actions by removing all relevant Content, not by publicly displaying to other users that the Tweet is no longer favorited or has been deleted.”

A couple days later, Twitter confirmed the action to Gawker through a spokesperson who said:

Earlier today we spoke to the Sunlight Foundation, to tell them we will not restore Twitter API access for their Politwoops site. We strongly support Sunlight’s mission of increasing transparency in politics and using civic tech and open data to hold government accountable to constituents, but preserving deleted Tweets violates our 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.

As such, Politwoops is no more.


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