Two important facts here about modern technology:
1. Once on the Internet, nothing ever truly goes away.
2. Politicians butt dial.
And the convergence of these politically inconvenient truths is at the heart of a new website that preserves all the tweets deleted by politicians, then serves them up for a public who was never supposed to lay eyes on them.
Politwoops made its debut just a week ago, but it's already a site both familiar and feared in the nation's capitol. Every typo, misspelling or bit of questionable judgment a politician (or, in fairness, their staff) put on Twitter and thought they deleted has now been brought back to life. Very public life. In an election year.
The site was launched by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan group whose stated goal is "to change the relationship between citizens and their government with Internet technology." Add "and make a modern parlor game out of their mistakes" and you've really got something.
Their program detects whenever a tweet is deleted from any of the accounts they follow and automatically grabs the text and archives it to their site.
Some other tweets politicians tried to hide:
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): RT @JPFreire: Tips for driving in DC: walk towards your car. Set it on fire. Set yourself on fire. Arrive at spiritual destination.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ): Stop @ D'Orsi's Bakery, Port Reading for Italian bread and pasr
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL): How to Drop 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days http://t.co/ZqTlzYMO (the spam is bad enough, but that link goes to a Pinterest board (??) which includes a photo of a baby bird with the caption 'Everybody Calm The F*** Down')
Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ): T
Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA): On the House Floor to
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC): Ggfhdieodgih
One of the site's directors told NPR that shortly after Politwoops launched, it started to become an unintentional news feed for a handful of enterprising politicians. "A few Republican members of Congress started intentionally deleting tweets," said Tom Lee. That way they were able to "get to the top of the site with their own partisan messages."
"It's kind of a fiction to pretend that you can put something out on the Internet and then delete it," Lee explained. "So some people will have gotten this material no matter what. We just want to make sure that everyone has an equal right and ability to access it."