Hey, politicians — aren’t you glad Twitter has a ‘delete’ function? All those ill-advised comments, bad-taste jokes and ill-informed statements can be purged from the Internet’s collective memory like so many outdated cat videos.
But not so fast.
Last week was the official launch of Politiwoops, the most amusingly intrusive platform for Internet transparency since WikiLeaks. The site constantly archives and updates politicians’ twitter feeds, and publishes online any tweets politicians thought better of and tried to take back.
It’s a project started by the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation, which works toward greater transparency in politics; the group diligently worked to collect tweets for six months for six months leading up to Politiwoops’ launch, and now boasts a collation of over 3,000 bite-sized afterthoughts, regrets, and typo-fests.
How do they do it? Politiwoops follows the Twitter feeds of several politicians and important public figures; when a tweet is deleted, the system notices and automatically archives the rogue message for posterity. President Obama is on there, as are John McCain and Newt Gingrich. A few more tweets caught up in Politiwoops’ net:
Stephen Fincher, a Tennessee Congressional Representative, posting that “#thebachelor is a lot like the Hunger Games.”
Jeff Miller, a Florida Representative, posting a link to a Facebook poll posing the question: “Was Obama born in the United States?”
John McCain, Senator and former Republican presidential candidate, mocking Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tears when he had been re-elected to the Kremlin.
Newt Gingrich, former Republican leadership candidate, referring to himself in the third person: “Newt is backstage. Ready to take the podium.”
Denny Rehberg, a Montana Representative and Republican Party member, in what became a rather beautifully meta tweet-delete, after only 2 minutes of being unleashed on his virtual public: “#politwoops archives things politicians may wish they could un-say – like “If you like your health insurance you can keep it.””