Around the world, celebrities and shifty politicians are probably mopping sweat off their brows with the news that deleted tweet archive PostGhost has been ordered to cease and desist by Twitter.
PostGhost was a website that archived the tweets of famous people, so that even if a celeb deleted a regrettable tweet, it would somehow come back to haunt them.
A similar site, Politiwoops, was also taken offline but has returned in a limited form.
‘We believe that for such prominent verified Twitter users, the public has a right to see their public Twitter history, whether or not they grow to regret the statements they’ve made’
Twitter contacted PostGhost and threatened to shut down its API access because it violated its Developer Agreement and Policy.
The price of power and influence
“We created the website Postghost.com to provide the public with a more accurate history of public statements made by the most influential public figures on Twitter,” PostGhost wrote in a response.
“We believe PostGhost provides a fairer and more transparent way of allowing individuals to hold public figures accountable than Politwoops, a website that Twitter has recently reauthoriSed to publish certain deleted tweets.”
The spark of the whole issue has been the UK Brexit from the EU.
PostGhost cited three tweets from celebrities Johnny Robinson, JK Rowling and Lindsay Lohan urging people to #leave or #remain that reached 17m people, far exceeding the reach of any politician.
“All three tweets were then deleted within minutes. For non-followers and people who don’t use Twitter, it’s as if the tweets never existed, and no record of them exists aside from PostGhost. In a referendum decided by just over 1m votes, the ability to reach millions of followers instantly and leave no trace is a massive and growing power, and one that is currently completely unchecked and undocumented,” PostGhost said.
PostGhost said that not every Twitter user should have their deleted tweets recorded.
However, it said that Twitter maintains a list of public figures – “verified users” who are 0.05pc of its user base for whom Twitter acts as “an instantaneous megaphone to reach vast numbers of followers”.
It said: “PostGhost only reports on half of this small subset – verified users with tens of thousands of followers, or more. We believe that for such prominent verified Twitter users, the public has a right to see their public Twitter history, whether or not they grow to regret the statements they’ve made.”
The controversy rumbles on and it will be interesting to see if PostGhost disappears, endures or, like Politiwoops, returns in an augmented form.
JK Rowling image via Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com