from the welcome-back dept
One of the stranger stories from last year was the demise of Politwoops, the wonderful project designed to not let public figures tweet out brain-vomit and then disappear it all once the backlash ensues. This useful service, designed to let the public see what politicians really thought after their two-martini breakfasts, was eighty-sixed by Twitter over a ham-fisted claim that it was protecting users' expression, which is how it referred to deleting users' previous expressions. If you can twist your brain into a pretzel enough that any of that makes sense to you, you're a better brain-gymnast than I.
Well, Politwoops has been resurrected, and here to tell us how great that is, is the new CEO of Twitter, the company that initially killed it off.
A message from Twitter on Thursday suggests Jack Dorsey, who took over as permanent CEO of the company in October, is behind the about face. The message includes an excerpt from a speech given by Dorsey at an event in October where he said his company has “a responsibility to continue to empower organizations that bring more transparency to public dialogue, such as Politwoops.”It's a nice, well-crafted message, to be sure. That said, it wouldn't feel right to laud Twitter for about-facing a terrible attempt to knee-cap the usefulness of its own site. If Twitter is a platform chiefly about inter-expression, then hiding any of that expression is antithetical to its very purpose. Reinstating a service primarily useful to the public, once murdered out of deference to the elite class, is self-evidently the right thing to do, and the only lesson to be learned here is that Twitter's initial treatment of Politwoops was a major mistake to begin with.
Dorsey continued, “We need to make sure we are serving all these organizations and developers in the best way, because that is what will make Twitter great. We need to listen, we need to learn, and we need to have this conversation with you. We want to start that today.”
Responding to Twitter’s decision to reinstate Politwoops, Jenn Topper, communications director for the Sunlight Foundation, described the archiving service as “an important tool for holding our public officials, including candidates and elected or appointed public officials, accountable for the statements they make,” adding, “We’re glad that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with Twitter to bring it back online both in the U.S. and internationally.”As the article states, the timing for all this is of note, with the presidential race season transitioning from the "look at all the idiots running" phase into the "holy shit, this stuff actually matters" portion of the performance. Politicians will once again have to live with their statements, rather than be able to simply pretend they never existed, and this makes Twitter a more useful platform. All because it is returning to the open status that had made it great and not the closed platform it tried to become.