Twitter has informed PostGhost, a site that archived the deleted tweets of public figures, that it is misusing Twitter’s content and defying its Developer Agreement. Now PostGhost has agreed to shutter its service, but under protest. PostGhost believes public figures with verified Twitter accounts and more than 10K followers should be held accountable for their tweets, even the deleted ones. Here are the PostGhost proprietors writing in an open letter to Twitter after the shutdown:
We believe that for such prominent verified Twitter users, the public has a right to see their public Twitter history, whether or not they grow to regret the statements they’ve made.
If this all sounds familiar it may be because another site, Sunlight Foundation’s Politwoops, which archives the deleted tweets of politicians, met a similar fate a few years ago. However, Twitter apparently came to some sort of agreement with Politwoops, because the site resumed operation.
Why can Politwoops live on while PostGhost dies? It isn’t only politicians who should be held accountable for their recanted digital statements. What about bank CEOs, religious leaders, and captains of industry? Twitter should allow third parties to preserve the tweets of anybody who qualifies as a “public figure” under the libel laws. We live in a society where fewer people impact the lives of huge numbers of people, and their statements—and misstatements—are often now broadcast on Twitter.