Twitter bans services that recorded politicians' deleted tweets

Twitter said that it banned the services because everyone “has a right to express themselves without fear that their tweets are to become permanent record.”

Two social media management platforms that track politicians’ deleted tweets in an effort to maintain transparency have been cut off from accessing Twitter.

Twitter revoked access to its application program interface (API), which allows other programs to connect with it, for Diplotwoops and Politwoops because it violated its terms of service.

The two services allowed the public to keep track of what politicians and diplomats were saying on Twitter by monitoring their accounts for deleted tweets and also indicating how long it took for a tweet to be taken down.

Politwoops operated throughout the world, including the EU, however it began to face opposition from Twitter for violating its terms of service and was shut down in the US in May. The remaining 30 Politwoops sites around the world were shut down on Friday along with Diplotwoops.

The services were developed by a Dutch organisation, Open State Foundation, over three years ago and were focused on making government more transparent. Politwoops began running in the US after the operating code was shared with the Sunlight Foundation in the US who adopted a similar ethos.

Following the original decision to block Politwoops Twitter released a statement to the Open State Foundation saying that the “decision was guided by the company’s core value; to defend and respect the user’s voice”. It also said that “deleting a Tweet is an expression of the user’s voice” and that everyone “has a right to express themselves without fear that their tweets are to become permanent record.”

Sunlight Foundation president, Christopher Gates, was unhappy at Twitter’s decision to begin banning the service and stated earlier this year that a “member of Congress does not and should not have the same expectation of privacy as a private citizen”. He added that “power can only be accountable with a generous application of transparency.”

The organisation said that it will continue to explore other ways to keep the public messages from elected politicians visible.

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