In a global blow to government transparency, Twitter shut down a tool this weekend that tracked tweets that had been deleted by politicians in 30 countries.
The Open Source Foundation, a Dutch government transparency group, said Sunday that Twitter had cut off its Politwoops and Diplotwoops accounts’ access to the company’s application programming interface, or API, on Friday. Twitter similarly killed off the U.S. version of Politwoops in June.
Twitter justified the move by informing the group that it would not distinguish between its users, according to a statement posted on the Open Source Foundation’s website.
“Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?” Twitter wrote, as quoted in the group’s statement. “No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user’s voice.”
The group collected tweets from diplomats, members of the European Parliament, and the Vatican in addition to politicians from the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Portugal, Egypt, Estonia, France, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, South Korea, Macedonia, Norway, Belgium, the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia and Turkey.
‘What elected politicians publicly say is a matter of public record,” the director of the Open Source Foundation, Arjan El Fassed, said in a statement. “Even when tweets are deleted, it’s part of parliamentary history. These tweets were once posted and later deleted. What politicians say in public should be available to anyone.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.