Just in time for the 2016 presidential race to really heat up, Politwoops is back on Twitter. In August, Twitter booted the service, which tracks politicians’ public tweets so there’s a record in case one gets deleted, because “preserving deleted Tweets violates [Twitter’s] developer agreement.”
In “several meetings” with Twitter, Politwoops partners the Open State Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation, and Access Now worked out an agreement for bringing the service back to Twitter. The social network said Thursday that it would restore Politwoops’ access to its application program interface (API). “We have a responsibility to continue to empower organizations that bring more transparency to public dialogue, such as Politwoops,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in October.
In the United States, Politwoops has caught missteps like Senate candidates tweeting complete photos of their credit cards or members of Congress improperly using consumer drones. As my Slate colleague Jacob Brogan pointed out in October, transparency projects like Politwoops are increasingly vital as political discourse continues to move online.
The Open State Foundation says it plans to expand Politwoops into countries that have never had it before, along with the 30 where it’s already set up. And the Sunlight Foundation explained, “In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be working behind the scenes to get Politwoops up and running.”
Every candidate has gaffes, and tracking them over time can surface important mistakes or paint a bigger picture of how a campaign is being run. Twitter originally explained its concern about Politwoops by saying, “Imagine how nerve-racking—terrifying, even—tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?” The social network seems to finally understand that public tweets are, well, public.