Menu
Twitter shutdown of apps for deleted tweets could give politicians new control

Twitter shutdown of apps for deleted tweets could give politicians new control

Twitter said the apps, Diplotwoops and Politwoops, violated its developer policies

By effectively shutting down apps that showed politicians' deleted tweets, Twitter is giving politicians more control over public speech, and at the cost of transparency, some digital media experts said.

Over the weekend, Twitter shut down the access that two apps had to its API or application program interface, which let them show users tweets that had been deleted by politicians and other elected officials.

Twitter said the apps, Diplotwoops and Politwoops, violated the terms of its policies, which ban developers from publicly displaying deleted content. But the harm Twitter's actions pose to public transparency far outweigh the minor privacy implications -- if any -- of the services provided by those apps, some say.

"The exciting thing about platforms like Twitter when politicians and public officials are using them is that it can provide more accountability and more transparency," said Parker Higgins, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Twitter's action, he said, cripples that ideal. The EFF typically advocates for privacy online.

And, Twitter's action gives politicians and public figures a level of control they never had before, he said.

Stories about deleted tweets often make it to the larger Web thanks in part to the aforementioned apps.

Last year, it was reported that Republican and Democratic members of Congress deleted tweets supportive of captured U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl, after the circumstances surrounding his disappearance were scrutinized.

Now, fewer of those sorts of stories may be published.

Higgins described apps like Politwoops and Diplotwoops as net forces for good.

Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism school, said it's good that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook let their users delete posts.

But the apps Twitter shut down and others like them serve an important function, because they can help illuminate where public officials stand on important issues, especially if they want to take back what they said.

He acknowledged that Twitter's move may alienate journalists who use the site to report on and break news.

The apps' developers, meanwhile, railed against Twitter, arguing that their software served the public interest, particularly journalists, and helped keep elected officials accountable.

"What elected politicians publicly say is a matter of record," said Arjan El Fassed, director of the Open State Foundation, a nonprofit which launched Diplotwoops and the international version of Politwoops. "Even when tweets are deleted, it's part of parliamentary history," he wrote in a blog post on Monday.

Twitter's action might be easier to condone had the apps targeted the deleted tweets of everyday people.

"You could construct situations where the same behavior aimed at different targets would be a violation of privacy," said EFF's Higgins.

"There's a difference between an average, non-public figure using Twitter, and Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush using Twitter," he said.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags twitter

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments