Twitter to restore tool that tracks deleted tweets

Donald Trump, Twitter
Twitter

Twitter has reached an agreement with transparency organizations to restore the tool that archived lawmakers’ deleted tweets around the world. 

The company announced Thursday that it had negotiated an agreement with the Sunlight Foundation and the Open State Foundation — the two groups that ran the archiving tool known as Politwoops. The move is a reversal after the company essentially killed off the tool earlier this year.

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“We’re glad that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with Twitter to bring it back online both in the US and internationally,” the Sunlight Foundation said in a statement.

After years of allowing Politwoops to operate, Twitter earlier this year unexpectedly revoked use of its application program interface (API), which gave access to Twitter's stream and allowed developers to build the deletion archive around it. 

Sunlight's tool in the United States was cut off in June, and the Open State Foundation's tool, which operated in about 30 countries, was pulled in August.

Twitter justified the move by saying the tools violated its privacy terms of service, but the explanation received harsh blowback from those who said the tweets of public officials should warrant an exception. 

Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey in October hinted that the company was reevaluating its decision. He promised a new commitment to developers and specifically gave a shoutout to Politwoops in a speech. 

Since then, the company had been in talks with the Sunlight Foundation, the Open State Foundation and the group Access Now. 

The exact details of Thursday’s agreement are still vague. Twitter only said it had come to an agreement “around Politwoops.”

The Sunlight Foundation said the agreement “paves the way for us to bring Politwoops back online.” 

The archiving tool on the Sunlight Foundation’s website is not yet up and running.

“In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be working behind the scenes to get Politwoops up and running. Stay tuned for more,” the Sunlight Foundation said