Monday, May 4, 2009

Twitter History Now Starts With Obama, Bush Era Tweets Erased

While former President Bush (G.W.) was in office, the White House created a Twitter account. The Address was Twitter.com/TheWhiteHouse. The Bush administration handed over the account once Obama was sworn into office along with WhiteHouse.gov. Nothing unusual here so far. Here is where it gets a little sticky.

Someone in the Obama administration decided to wipe clean the Twitter account. They purged the 'Tweet' history and removed all of the followers. For those unfamiliar with the service, it is the equivalent of a new Editor-in-Chief (EIC) burning all of the paper's past issues so that history starts with them. That is to say that anyone looking back years from now would think that the paper started with that EIC, and even if they knew better their would be no way for them to see what was written in the issues from before that person took over.

There is a suggestion that what started this was a desire to have all of the White House web accounts to use the same name; that name is 'WhiteHouse'. Still, I see no reason that the information from the first account could not have been transferred over. Even if for some strange reason it could not, it should not have been totally erased.

This whole 'erasing history' or 'history starts with me' is not a Democratic notion. Indeed, it has been a tool and tactic of Communists and other Dictators. Before you put words in my mouth, I am not saying this of Obama. It seems highly unlikely that someone actually asked Obama if they should do this before they did. The undertones of this though are pretty bad.

I am not entirely convinced that 'Tweets' are truly gone. I do not believe I ever looked at the Bush administration's Twitter account, but many others did. One of those might have decided to save a copy. Twitter itself may have some sort of archive, or be able to restore the information. Lastly, it is my understanding that the White House has to maintain a certain archive of communications under the law. Where Twitter and Tweets fit into those laws is not something I have looked up, but you would hope the people in charge of the presidential archive would air on the side of caution. To relate it back to the previous example; although the newspaper archive was burned, someone out their might have been keeping their own archive that has survived.

We will have to wait and see if someone or some organization comes forward with a copy. If they do, it will be interesting to see if the Obama administration restores the info.

More at http://valleywag.gawker.com/5236015/why-did-the-white-house-delete-bushs-tweets.

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