Library of Congress tweets it will acquire all Twitter messages

The Library of Congress is poised to obtain all messages on the microblogging site Twitter dating back to March 2006, it said Wednesday.

In a post on its official Twitter account the library said

Library to acquire ENTIRE Twitter archive -- ALL public tweets, ever, since March 2006! Details to follow.

Twitter has over 105 million registered users, including about 200 members of Congress.

A Library spokesman later expounded on the new archive in a blog post, writing that its primary function will be to assist researchers and educators.

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"I'm no Ph.D., but it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data," wrote the spokesman, Matt Raymond. "And I'm certain we'll learn things that none of us now can possibly conceive."

The details of what exactly the acquisition will encompass is unclear. From the LOC's tweet and accompanying blog post, it appears that tweets that are "locked" or shaded from public view will not be incorporated into the library's new archive.

Twitter users have the option of making their posts public, which can be accessed by anyone on the Web; or private, which can only been seen by a select group of "friends."

Details such as friend and follower information and how the LOC will use the information specifically have not yet been made public. Raymond promised a more comprehensive press release on the archive later Wednesday.

Later Wednesday, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone shed more light on how the archive will work.

In a blog post, Stone wrote that "Only after a six-month delay can the tweets will be used for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation."

The Library said that it would collect every public tweet, but Stone wrote that "A tiny percentage of accounts are protected but most of these tweets are created with the intent that they will be publicly available."

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The acquisition could pose concerns for privacy advocates, who could argue that too much private information will soon become part of the public domain.

Cross-posted to the Twitter Room.

Updated at 4:04 p.m.