Speculators Wonder Why Twitter Has Shut Down PostGhost Archive

Speculators Wonder Why Twitter Has Shut Down PostGhost Archive

In a recent email, Twitter ordered PostGhost to shut down its services. The service, operational for only a week, wrote an open letter to Twitter in response, where it explained that though it has conformed to Twitter’s request, it does not understand the underlying purpose.

For those not familiar with PostGhost, it is a deleted tweets archive. Twitter is one of the most popular micro-blogging websites today. Twitter users with a large follower base can reach thousands of people within seconds. “In the days leading up to and during the UK’s EU referendum, many major celebrities used Twitter to broadcast their political agenda to their hundreds of thousands or millions of followers (Such as Johnny Robinson, singer with 151K followers, J.K. Rowling, author with 7.6M followers, and Lindsay Lohan, actress with 9.3M followers),” mentions the letter published on PostGhost’s website. These tweets urged people to vote for either leaving or remaining in the EU. Followers received the tweets on their phones instantly. Minutes later, the tweets were deleted, leaving no trace behind. PostGhost, however, kept track of these deleted tweets.

PostGhost keeps track of posts from verified users with more than 10,000 followers. This subset, accounting for around 0.05% of Twitter’s total user base, includes celebrities, politicians, and other public figures. It might be useful to keep track of the public statements made by these figures, hence PostGhost’s utility. However, apparently Twitter felt otherwise and invoked clauses of its ‘Developer Agreement and Policy’ to force it to shut down.

The notice comes as a surprise for many, especially after a recent incident Twitter had with another similar website, Politwoops that kept track of Tweets from politicians only. Last year, in a similar notice Twitter ordered the website to shut down as well. Soon after, while addressing a Developer’s conference in November 2015, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, acknowledged that shutting down Politwoops was a mistake and restored its services a month later. Why then does PostGhost not deserve similar permissions? The only difference is that Politwoops kept tabs on politicians only, while PostGhost does the same for other notable personalities as well, such as singers and actors. “We’re happy to continue a dialog and hopefully work towards a resolution that maintains user privacy while holding public figures accountable,” wrote PostGhost in the letter to Twitter. You can take a look at the complete letter here.

Editing by Javeria Rahim;Graphics by Rameez Ahmed