Earlier this summer, Twitter suddenly and unilaterally disabled the U.S. version of Politwoops, a website which tracked tweets that had been deleted by American politicians. At the time, Twitter believed the site was violating the lawmakers’ privacy. (“Honoring the expectation of user privacy for all accounts is a priority for us,” a spokesperson told Gawker in June, “whether the user is anonymous or a member of Congress.”) Now Twitter has gone even further and disabled the Politwoops of thirty more countries, as well as a similar website for diplomats and embassies called Diplotwoops. The effect of doing so is clear: Twitter has made government officials significantly less accountable to the public for what they say and do online.
Since 2012, the website Politwoops has tracked which tweets U.S. lawmakers delete from their Twitter accounts—usually due to innocent typos or simple errors, and sometimes due to more embarrassing mistakes. Last month, however, the site abruptly stopped working: The last deleted tweet listed on its main page, by Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, is dated May 15. Politwoops has not been updated in the two weeks since.