Only 'direct messages' to WH Twitter accounts to be archived

Replies to or re-tweets of the White House's 140-character updates are not subject to the archive rules that preserve all of the president's communications.

However, direct messages to White House staffers on Twitter would, in fact, be subject to those guidelines, as those messages are the functional equivalents of e-mails, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Wednesday, responding to concerns from Tuesday that all tweets to the White House could become part of the federal government's official archive.

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"What I write and what I tweet is archived, as a part of this Presidential Records Act of 1968, because it is work product created as part of my job at the White House," Gibbs stressed.

"The only thing would be archived, other than what I produce, is if you respond to me and only me, [as] it is analogous [to email]," he continued. "If you re-tweet something I said and sent it to both of us, neither of those two people would fall into the archives."

Federal guidelines on protected communications and official records have lagged behind advances in social media, presenting serious challenges to a White House staff that has long prided itself for being Web savvy.

Initially, the White House's communications shop was unable to join such platforms as Twitter. However, Gibbs said on Tuesday adjustments had been made to allow White House to participate in the medium while remaining in compliance with the law.