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Friday, January 01, 2016

No escape for politicians on Twitter

As if social media did not put enough obstacles and hazards in the way of a politician, the return of Politwoops is enough to strike terror into our hearts.

As the Independent explains, this on-line tool had previously watched for tweets by politicians and saved them even if they were deleted. But in the summer, Twitter decided that it would be shut down, arguing that it was “terrifying” not to be able to delete tweets.

However, the site has now said that it has come to an agreement with the group’s behind the tool — The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation — that will allow it to return:

“This agreement is great news for those who believe that the world needs more transparency,” said Arjan El Fassed, the director of the Open State Foundation. “Our next step is now to continue and expand our work to enable the public to hold public officials accountable for their public statements.”

Politwoops came out of a hackathon in 2010, and gradually grew to monitor tweets by politicians in dozens of countries. It was run by the Open State Foundation, which argued that it helped to hold politicians to account and that even deleted tweets were important public statements.

“In many parts of the world Twitter is a central component of the public record,” said Brett Soloman, the executive director of the global digital rights organization Access Now. “Re-establishing a mechanism to record, store and publish deleted tweets of politicians and public officials further demonstrates Twitter’s commitment to transparency and political accountability.”

I very rarely delete Tweets. If I do it is because I am not happy with the phrasing or I have spelt something incorrectly. I will then repost a corrected Tweet. As an aspiring grammarian therefore, this development is quite scary.

For politicians who are less careful about what they post, this is another minefield that they need to navigate. And let's face it, we are all human. It could happen to any of us.
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