Twitter, struggling financially amid a lagging stock price, has decided that removing a key source of public information its service provides is in its best interests.
The strange decision means it has effectively closed a network of websites dedicated to recording deleted tweets from political leaders from all countries. The websites — jointly known as Politwoops — were managed by the Open State Foundation (OSF), which stated that Twitter restricted their API access on Friday.
Twitter allegedly told the OSF that its resolution was the outcome of "thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors," and that the twitter didn't differentiate between politicians and ordinary users.
"Imagine how nerve-racking — terrifying, even — tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?" Twitter allegedly told the OSF, adding, "No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user’s voice."
The U.S. wing of Politwoops was closed in June, but this new resolution affects nations worldwide including Egypt, Canada, Turkey, India, Ireland, Tunisia, South Korea, Norway, and the UK.
The Diplotwoops website, dedicated to recording deleted tweets from political leaders, was also closed down, with the OSF noting every account has been "extensively used and cited by journalists around the world."
The company’s director, Arjan El Fassed, remarked: "What politicians say in public should be available to anyone. This is not about typos, but it is a unique insight on how messages from elected politicians can change without notice."
The British wing of Politwoops, popularly known by the handle @deletedbyMPs, was among those that Twitter's decision affected.
Speaking to The Guardian, Jules Mattsson, who operates the account, said: "It’s a terrible shame that Twitter has made this decision. Politwoops has been an important new tool in political accountability in the UK and abroad. Politicians are all too happy to use social media to campaign, but if we lose the ability for this to be properly preserved, it becomes a one-way tool."