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The mystery of the suspended U.S. government Twitter accounts

here’s a strange story unfolding. Our End of Term project friend Justin Littman from George Washington University, was doing some maintenance on the official US government twitter accounts that had been captured for the End of Term crawl, and noticed a number of .gov twitter accounts had been suspended. Account suspension happens when an account is sending spam or has been hacked or compromised in some way. I’ll let Justin explain below, but I’ll be really interested to find out how the folks running the U.S. Digital Registry are going to respond.

…When collecting a large number of Twitter accounts, the list of accounts requires occasional maintenance, as sometimes Twitter accounts are deleted or protected. It’s understandable how U.S. government accounts would be expected to change over time as agencies and initiatives change. However, when I was doing maintenance earlier today, I noticed something odd: a number of the accounts were suspended, not deleted or protected.

Curious, I exported the tweets from some of the suspended accounts. Really odd – the tweets were in Russian.

Then I checked back in the U.S. Digital Registry. The U.S. Digital Registry is supposed to be the authoritative list of the official U.S. government social media accounts…

…Still, there are some immediate take-aways:

  • While the U.S. Digital Registry is a very important service for promoting trust and transparency in the U.S. government and invaluable for those of us attempting to archive the web presence of the U.S. government, it desperately needs a scrubbing and quality control processes put into place.
  • The U.S. government needs to take full advantage of verified status on Twitter (i.e., the blue check), perhaps even requiring it.
  • Twitter needs to deal with the problem of recycled screen names. A person or organization should be able to delete an account without the fear of being impersonated. In particular, for organizations such as government agencies, this is critical.

via Suspended U.S. government Twitter accounts • Social Feed Manager.

Tweets of Congress, tweets of Trump archived and downloadable in bulk

The recently-launched Tweets Of Congress is collecting and publishing daily archives of tweets by congressional representatives, caucuses, and committees. The site only got up and running last week, so there are daily archives starting June 21, 2017. There’s also the Trump Twitter Archive, which has collected more than 30,000 of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets, which can be searched and downloaded in bulk.

But this points to a larger issue of the US government using commercial social media sites and tools to communicate with the public. This time around, the 2016 End of Term crawl included 9,000+ social media accounts (scraped from the .gov social media registry API) and included 44% FaceBook, 37% Twitter, 10% YouTube accounts. We also collected ~130 TB of .gov ftp sites that agencies use to serve out their collected data sets.

Tweets of Congress is my attempt to collate the entirety of Congress’ daily Twitter output using an automated process that checks Twitter on a fixed interval. Archives are available on this site and in JSON form. You can find JSON datasets linked in posts or in this site’s Github repo. Due to size constraints, archives will be limited at some tbd point. This site is open-source, so feel free to fork or whatever to your heart’s content. For any issues or other feedback, file an issue in the repo or send me an email.

via About – Tweets of Congress.

HT Data Is Plural 2017.06.28 edition. Don’t forget to subscribe to Jeremy Singer-Vine’s Data Is Plural weekly newsletter!

Bot to tweet Chilcot Report 140 characters at a time

Finally, after 7 years of investigation, the British government has released the Chilcot Report, the UK’s official inquiry into its participation in the Iraq War (coverage at the Guardian, NY Times, and the Intercept). We’ve purchased a copy, and are also in the process of storing a digital copy in the Stanford Digital Repository.

Now there’s word that the 12 volumes and 2.6 million words will be tweeted by the Chilcot Bot 140 characters at a time. I’m not sure how exactly 140 characters every 4.5 minutes is “more digestible,” but it does bring about an interesting thought experiment: how does one collect a document published as a year’s worth of tweets?!

The Chilcot report is long—2.6 million words long. It takes the form of 12 hefty volumes that occupy a table measuring several meters in length, in print form. 

Now, you can savor the document, which took 7 years to produce and find that the United Kingdom joined the invasion of Iraq under dubious circumstances, in tweet-sized bursts.

The bot issues a new tweet every 4.5 minutes or so, according to a calculation by Motherboard. It was created by BuzzFeed to reproduce the text in a more “digestible” form, according to Chris Applegate, a U.K.-based developer who worked on it.

via This Bot Will Spend the Next Year Tweeting the Chilcot Report – Nextgov.com.

Politwoops archive of politicians’ deleted tweets uploaded to Internet Archive

In August, 2015, Twitter shut down the Politwoops service and its sister site Diplotwoops that tracked politicians’ deleted tweets. Twitter revoked access to its API for all Politwoops sites in 30 countries around the world, citing terms of service violations.

In a move to preserve all of those deleted tweets, Open State has uploaded its archive of tweets to the Internet Archive.

In a move to preserve the public record for everyone, Open State has uploaded its complete Politwoops archive of deleted tweets by politicians to the Internet Archive. The archive consists of 1,106187 deleted tweets by 10,404 politicians collected in 35 countries and parliaments over a period of five years.



Introducing @POTUS: President Obama’s Twitter Account. Alex Wall, The White House Blog (May 18, 2015).

Today, with a tweet from the Oval Office, President Obama launched @POTUS, the official Twitter account of the President of the United States.

Other Twitter accounts you might want to know about:

The White House: @WhiteHouse
Vice President Joe Biden: @VP
First Lady Michelle Obama: @FLOTUS
Dr. Jill Biden: @DrBiden
Live coverage from the White House: @WHLive
Press Secretary Josh Earnest: @PressSec
Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett: @VJ44
Communications Director Jen Psaki: @Psaki44
White House updates in Spanish: @LaCasaBlanca
Chief Official White House Photographer: @PeteSouza

Full list of White House Twitter accounts at twitter.com/WhiteHouse/lists/whitehouseaccounts/members.