Watch Out Politicians: Politwoops Is Back

Those deleted tweets are no longer safe

President Obama's Twitter page — AFP/Getty Images
Jan 01, 2016 at 3:15 PM ET

Politicians are going to have to think before they tweet. On Thursday, Twitter restored Politwoops, the website that collected deleted tweets by politicians—making it harder for public figures to distance themselves from past flip-flops.

Politwoops is run by the transparency group The Sunlight Foundation in partnership with Open State Foundation and Access Now. The service tracks deleted tweets from politicians, most notably ones that praised once-popular opinions that become less favorable. In June 2015, Twitter revoked Politwoops’ access to its API, saying that the site went against Twitter’s terms of service.

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But in a reversal, Twitter and the Sunlight Foundation and the Open State Foundation said they had reached an agreement to allow the site to use its API again.

In one famous example of Politwoops bringing up sticky footage, many politicians praised former prisoner of war Bowe Berghdal when President Obama negotiated his released from the Taliban, only to delete those tweets when Berghdal was accused of desertion and possibly being a Taliban sympathizer.

In a blog post at the end of 2014, Politwoops named some of the year’s highlights as tracking Rep. Jim Inhofe’s deletion of 300 tweets that were “campaign-related,” Representative-elect Bruce Westerman deleting 26 tweets with the hashtag #TellTheTruthTommy attacking his opponent and an Arizona state legislator tweeting a photo of what he thought was a bus of migrant children (calling it an “abrogation of the rule of law” natch) but what ended up being a group of children going to a local YMCA.