Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Communications Government United States Your Rights Online

White House Press Secretary's Tweets Archived 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the for-future-generations dept.
RedTeflon writes "The White House spokesman, who has just started using Twitter, told reporters this afternoon that he met with government lawyers yesterday to determine whether his tweets would be archived along with emails and just about everything else produced at the White House. After deliberation, White House lawyers have decided that any and all tweets will be archived in keeping with the Presidential Records Act of 1978."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

White House Press Secretary's Tweets Archived

Comments Filter:
  • Therefore we need news laws.

    A corollary:

    It's on the internet. Therefore old laws don't apply.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LostCluster (625375) *
      The law usually gets blindsided by technical developments. Giving the lack of tech experts in lawmaking, they usually try to apply the old regulation until they break, then and only then do they realize there's a new way to do things.
      • by flyneye (84093)

        Yeah, I agree, they'll just have to keep clandestine communications of underhanded deeds down to face to face encounters, away from microphones, the old fashioned way.

    • by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @12:13AM (#31180230)
      Exactly opposite, though: It's not a new law. It's an interpretation of an old law to see if it applies to something new. And it did. Thus we DON'T need new laws.
      • by shermo (1284310)

        Right, and yet he had to meet with lawyers to tell him this.

        Seems like I summed up the whitehouse spokesman's thought process pretty well.

        • by TheLink (130905)
          If your organization has a legal department, it's not so silly to consult them over stuff like this.

          It's not something personal that's completely up to him. As he said: "What I write and what I tweet is archived ... because it is work product created as part of my job at the White House,"

          Once he's got that decision from "Legal" he can then tell "IT" to start taking measures to archive the stuff. Without that, "IT" might put his request on a lower priority - somewhere way below "fixing the cute intern's lapt
          • That wouldn't be enough.

            Only the stuff that Management is breathing down your back about is put above "fixing the cute intern's laptop"

        • "Right, and yet he had to meet with lawyers to tell him this."

          Yes that's right, he did need to ask because he is not a lawyer, it's called due dilligence [wikipedia.org]. If he decided to throw them out without seeking legal advise then he could possibly have found himself behind bars in the future, if he decided to keep them and it was not legally required then he is wasting taxpayers money.

          "Seems like I summed up the whitehouse spokesman's thought process pretty well."

          No, it seems that in your rush to find fault
    • by creimer (824291)
      Whether old or new, the law on Twitter must be 140 characters or less.
    • with the full backing and support of the president. Why are we even talking about this?

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Thursday February 18, 2010 @12:08AM (#31180184)

    It seems to me that public people might need two twitter accounts just to create the legal definition of what they're posting as part of their job (which definitely should be subject to retention policies) and what they're positing as a member of the public. Some notable policies...

    MSNBC holds people accountable for what they tweet, such as what got David Schuster in trouble for recently. Basically, you can't say anything on Twitter that they wouldn't allow on the air. Keith Olbermann doesn't tweet. Rachel Maddow tweets but it's mostly limited to show previews and links to her other web posts.

    ESPN orders their people not to tweet, seeing it as competition to what they do on the air. No breaking of stories before they're reported by ESPN or ESPN.com. No posting of opinions if you're paid to share your opinions on ESPN shows. If you work for them and want to blog, there's space waiting for you at ESPN.com.

    CNN allowed Rick Sanchez to turn his non-distinct hour of CNN Newsroom into a signature show called "Rick's List" where they use "iReports" from people tweeting, facebooking and myspacing them in order to generate content. A consultant who wrote an unofficial bridge between the CNN Breaking News e-mail service and the CNN_brk Twitter account ended up getting a handsome reward for handing over control of the account to make it an official CNN service.

    G4 one day sent around a sign-or-you're-fired notice that the on-air staff had to give the network license to republish their tweets from their personal twitter accounts. This is what enabled that little quote box on the right hand side of their webpage and nothing more, but the way it was handled with legalese before explaining what the network really meant caused some initial confusion. More or less, the staff learned not to tweet dumb things because there's a risk that might be something the web editor can grab onto now. The reason Morgan Webb's Webb Alert podcast is "suspended" is because Morgan was told to stop doing that since it competed with the The Feed segment on AOTS which up until recently was also podcast. If G4 ever gives her the green light, or she leaves the network and her new job doesn't mind the podcast is likely to return.

    In all these cases, the content owners want to control what their public people tweet with information they learned as part of doing their job. Say things that help the company make money, and keep going. Say things that the bosses think cost the company money, and you'll be told to stop. Bringing this back to the topic at hand... if he's tweeting for his job then his job should keep the tweets. If he's just tweeting what he had for lunch, there's no reason to keep that around.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by yuhong (1378501)

      It seems to me that public people might need two twitter accounts just to create the legal definition of what they're posting as part of their job (which definitely should be subject to retention policies) and what they're positing as a member of the public.

      Yea, like there is a separation between personal and professional these days: http://www.bnet.com/2403-13058_23-358555.html [bnet.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      If he's just tweeting what he had for lunch, there's no reason to keep that around.

      Unless it turns out to have been code for something, which is why you archive EVERYTHING.

    • The reason Morgan Webb's Webb Alert podcast is "suspended" is because Morgan was told to stop doing that since it competed with the The Feed segment on AOTS which up until recently was also podcast.

      Great. Now all I can think of is Morgan Webb vs. Layla Kayleigh in a duel of some sorts. Maybe with an added interesting twist like in the mud, or a pool of jello, or perhaps motor oil.

      • Layla Kayleigh left G4 about a year ago and was replaced with a rotation of the show's correspondents timed for when they're in the studio building rather than on assignment somewhere else.
    • by pcolaman (1208838)

      ESPN orders their people not to tweet, seeing it as competition to what they do on the air. No breaking of stories before they're reported by ESPN or ESPN.com. No posting of opinions if you're paid to share your opinions on ESPN shows. If you work for them and want to blog, there's space waiting for you at ESPN.com.

      Except you are wrong. Adam Schefter tweets and he offers opinions and I've even seen him break NFL news on tweets before or simultaneously when he breaks it on ESPN.com. I haven't noticed anyone else at ESPN doing this, but then again, when it comes to the NFL, most everyone else at ESPN is a fucking moron (Yes, Mel Kiper, I'm talking about you dickhead).

      • I'm not sure why Schefter gets an exemption, but the large majority of ESPN personalities in mass deleted their Twitter accounts on a boss' say-so.

        • by pcolaman (1208838)

          Probably because Schefter can get scoops from the insiders that others can't, which is also why ESPN paid top dollar to get him to walk from the NFL Network and come work for them. The inside contacts Schefter built up from working for the Denver Post and then for NFLN for years most likely would be the reason for that. The guy probably has the personal cell numbers for half the dudes in the league, as well as most front office personnel worth caring about. He's often regarded as having access to the wid

          • Yep... that'd be standard operating procedure in media. Most TV people aren't allowed to appear on rival media outlets... but take for example Suze Orman who appears regularly on PBS and CNBC. Why'd CNBC agree to that? Because she already was famous for her books, and for them part-of-Suze was better than no Suze at all.
    • Did you cry with happiness because of the ability to write more than 140 characters, or why the large wall of tl;dr text? ;)

  • by moosesocks (264553) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @12:21AM (#31180270) Homepage

    Look at this on the bright side -- the librarians at the National Archives won't have to strain their backs to lift and catalogue a tiny collection of 140-character messages. Must be a nice break next to the 5,000 page budget proposals they've gotten used to seeing.

    • by KibibyteBrain (1455987) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @02:05AM (#31180804)
      Actually, tweets would be challenging to archive compared to traditional texts. The hardest part of archiving is creating a good index and cross-references to the archived material. Most even short traditional documents have some sort of natural outlining and some sort of built in summary with keywords in it, like an abstract or executive summary.
      A tweet, however, might be best described by keywords that do not even exist in it but rather only by the material it links to or even just the events surrounding it. It may therefore require far more metadata, in words, to describe the significance of a short statement than the statement itself.
      • by ffflala (793437)

        You're trying to apply a kind of artificial keyword indexing approach to describing tweets. This approach might be overly complex for actual use, at least in the context of the WH Press Sec'y. The problems you point out, while real, seem more applicable to accessing enough aggregate tweets to overcome what an individual can realistically read.

        The press secretary's material is necessarily timely, and there are longer transcripts of his more explicit events (with indexing), and corresponding dates.

        • I thought he meant that when you tweet a link to an external article for instance, the archive would probably have to archive the article in question as well (just in case the external article gets changed, or disappears). The same goes for tweeted links to videos/podcasts, I assume that for the context of the tweet to be understood, the linked video/podcast would have to be copied as well. Am I right?
  • by mysidia (191772) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @12:36AM (#31180344)

    Tweets are public in the first place, and can't really be withdrawn.

    They aren't tweets until displayed by third-party servers. And displaying them means that they are published...

    And anyone can archive them already.

    So I question whether it's an efficient use of government resources.

    When a politician is answering questions at a press conference... is an archivist scrupulously keeping their own record to be stored in the presidential archives?

    Including requiring all members of the press to have their video and notes run through a machine to "archive" it, before they're allowed to leave.

    And also... that all articles published also get archived.....

    It seems like the things most important to require be archived carefully are the things that aren't published, or contain elements that were not made public at the time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by simcop2387 (703011)

      Thats just it, you can delete tweets.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mysidia (191772)

        Deleting a tweet draws even more attention to its text when just one of the >100,000 followers noticed the tweet went away

        There are entire websites already dedicated to archiving all deleted tweets

        I'd be far more concerned about integrity of the message.

        For example, what happens if Twitter.com admins decide to alter the text of a tweet during posting, or shortly after it is posted?

        Such as to censor bad words, block certain tweets from being published (spam filter), or alteration for selfish co

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pavon (30274)

      Just because something can be archived by everyone, doesn't mean that someone will. Otherwise we wouldn't be missing all those old BBC episodes for which the originals were destroyed.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        In this case, though, I think they will. Twitter itself is archiving everything, and Google just paid Twitter >$10m for a real-time data feed that I'd be willing to bet they're permanently archiving (Google doesn't like deleting data). That's not quite the same as having public archives, of course, but I would put the odds of the tweets actually totally disappearing pretty low.

  • I, for one, am glad that twitter wasn't around when Clinton was president.

    tmi about Clinton already, what happens at the next scandal?

  • by Eil (82413) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @12:59AM (#31180458) Homepage Journal

    After deliberation, White House Lawyers have decided that any and all tweets will be archived in keeping with the Presidential Records Act of 1978.

    I'd be curious to know what there is to deliberate about. Why wouldn't the White House archive all non-classified records and communications?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JoshuaZ (1134087)
      Because records have this nasty tendency to bite you when you are trying to change history. The entire reason transparency and archiving laws are important is that even for fairly normal, non-evil people, there are major temptations to just not keep records of stuff that is inconvenient unless there's a specific action to tell you otherwise. Indeed, for all of Obama's talk about transparency during the election, this administration has only be marginally more transparent than the previous administration in
      • And in many respects they are much, much more transparent then the previous administration. Of course it's early to say, but I don't see this administration using unofficial email addresses to illegally circumvent archiving laws.

        • And in many respects they are much, much more transparent then the previous administration. Of course it's early to say, but I don't see this administration using unofficial email addresses to illegally circumvent archiving laws.

          Please give me one example of how the Obama Administration is more transparent than the previous administration. Second, I was unaware of the Bush Administration using unofficial email addresses, please provide a reference. I believe there was a story about Sarah Palin using an unofficial email address when she was governor of Alaska, but that is irrelevant to the question of whether the Obama Administration is more transparent than the Bush Administration.
          It may be that the Obama Administration is more tr

          • I believe there was a story about Sarah Palin using an unofficial email address when she was governor of Alaska, but that is irrelevant to the question of whether the Obama Administration is more transparent than the Bush Administration.

            The key point in that story is that a member of Anonymous, who said he wanted to "derail [Palin's]" campaign," and whose dad happens to be a (Democrat) state representative in Tennessee, hacked into that e-mail address and found that she was using the e-mail address for personal communication and not state business.

            • by Danse (1026)

              I believe there was a story about Sarah Palin using an unofficial email address when she was governor of Alaska, but that is irrelevant to the question of whether the Obama Administration is more transparent than the Bush Administration.

              The key point in that story is that a member of Anonymous, who said he wanted to "derail [Palin's]" campaign," and whose dad happens to be a (Democrat) state representative in Tennessee, hacked into that e-mail address and found that she was using the e-mail address for personal communication and not state business.

              That was the "gov.palin@yahoo.com" account, which she used for personal communications. She was actually using "gov.sarah@yahoo.com" for conducting state business [answerbag.com] and there's boxes of email transcripts to prove it.

              • The answer bag article that you linked doesn't actually say what you claim it says. It says that a disgruntled former employee CLAIMS that she uesd that address. There's also no date on the article, so I can't go and find more about it from a source that might know more than "answer bag" or "The Public Record," whoever they are.

                According to the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com], Palin was the subject of 15 ethics probes (of which this was one), 13 of which were resolved with no finding of wrongdoing and the other two were

                • by Danse (1026)
                  The hacking incident took place in September 2008. The only other stories I find say the same things. The boxes of emails that were turned over to Andree McLeod in June 2008 were heavily redacted, and the ones that were still being requested from the Yahoo accounts are the ones that Palin refuses to turn over, citing executive privilege. How you claim executive privilege over email that isn't related to state business, I have no idea, so I can only assume that they are state business related emails.

                  Th
                  • The hacking incident took place in September 2008. The only other stories I find say the same things. The boxes of emails that were turned over to Andree McLeod in June 2008 were heavily redacted, and the ones that were still being requested from the Yahoo accounts are the ones that Palin refuses to turn over, citing executive privilege. How you claim executive privilege over email that isn't related to state business, I have no idea, so I can only assume that they are state business related emails.

                    Do you have a link to a story giving either these dates, or citing Palin's executive privilege claim? It seems to me that "these are my private e-mails, and not state business, and therefore I shouldn't have to turn them over (and should be allowed to redact them)" is a perfectly reasonable position for Palin to take. Would you turn over all your personal e-mail to someone who you know is going to try to use it to harass you and your family?

                    There were still FOIA requests pending, but Palin said it would cost $88,000 to hand over those emails, knowing that the woman couldn't pay it. That's more than a year's salary for most people, and a completely ridiculous amount for handing over 1,000 emails.

                    Cry me a river. This lawsuit was brought to harass Sarah Palin and

                    • by Danse (1026)
                      According to these [washingtonpost.com] articles [msn.com] and others I've read, she did claim executive privilege. You're assuming a lot here. You assume that the "disgruntled" former aide is lying, although there's no evidence of that. You're assuming that the suit is just for purposes of harassment, again with no evidence of that. You're assuming that these emails are all personal (which just from the subject lines that were leaked (see the msnbc link for those too), it's quite obvious that they were about state business.

                      Whether
                    • According to these [washingtonpost.com] articles [msn.com] and others I've read, she did claim executive privilege. You're assuming a lot here. You assume that the "disgruntled" former aide is lying, although there's no evidence of that. You're assuming that the suit is just for purposes of harassment, again with no evidence of that. You're assuming that these emails are all personal (which just from the subject lines that were leaked (see the msnbc link for those too), it's quite obvious that they were about state business.

                      I made a lot of assumptions about the facts of these e-mails because I only had the first set of articles you posted, plus what I posted later. The second set is a lot more helpful.
                      I made other assumptions about the complaint based on a pattern. Like I said, there were 13 ethics complaints against Palin resolved (and two outstanding) when she resigned. Of those 13, Palin was found to not have committed any wrongdoing. She was governor for two and a half years. Having 15 complaints about her filed in that

                    • by Danse (1026)

                      I made other assumptions about the complaint based on a pattern. Like I said, there were 13 ethics complaints against Palin resolved (and two outstanding) when she resigned. Of those 13, Palin was found to not have committed any wrongdoing.

                      That's not necessarily true. One of those complaints was about her using state funds to pay for her kids' travel. She ended up paying back the money, but it wasn't an unfair or unfounded claim. I can't find much info on most of those complaints, so I can't address them. I do think that anyone that becomes (or even looks like they might become) a candidate for a major office is going to face increased scrutiny. This happens to all of them, so Palin is hardly alone in this. Hell, look at all the accusat

          • by Danse (1026)

            Please give me one example of how the Obama Administration is more transparent than the previous administration. Second, I was unaware of the Bush Administration using unofficial email addresses, please provide a reference. I believe there was a story about Sarah Palin using an unofficial email address when she was governor of Alaska, but that is irrelevant to the question of whether the Obama Administration is more transparent than the Bush Administration.

            http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2469&catid=44%3Alegislation&Itemid=1 [house.gov]

            http://motherjones.com/mojo/2007/04/rove-and-co-broke-federal-law-email-scam [motherjones.com]

            http://articles.latimes.com/2007/apr/12/nation/na-emails12 [latimes.com]

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_White_House_e-mail_controversy [wikipedia.org] for a summary of the whole thing and more references.

          • Danse above provided the references. It was pretty big news at the time, not sure how you missed it.

      • there's a certain amount of ego going on. for example, nixon made a point to have all of his white house discussions taped, down to the most mundane stuff, like where he would eat for dinner, but where he also freely and many times said extremely sensitive things. its aggrandizement: "i'm so important, let's tape everything i say so historians of the future can hang on my every word"

        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/us/politics/24nixon.html [nytimes.com]

        Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster "permis

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 18_Rabbit (663482)
      Apparently you've been missing for the past 8 1/2 years. The Bush administration was using non-official email accounts to conduct official business, 'cause, you know, they never wanted anyone to know what they were doing.
  • Hope they expand it to defense and state dept. Think of the hilarity of international diplomacy via twitter smirks.

    Yeah. Pwnage, loots, and all that.

  • "And this affects me how?"
  • And so we now have found what will finally be the death of most social media outlets, including Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook...Lawyers.

    I can see it now..."Anything you can say, might have said, or will say, regardless of format, will be held against you. We have the right to refuse you a job based on that pic you posted when you were 16. We also retain the right to fire you for anything WE deem "offensive" in nature that is done by you, on or off duty, that we discover at a later date. We reserve the r

  • One of the hard things about archiving these tweets is ... do they get to archive the tweets that his tweets may be in reply to? How do they verify a bit.ly link actually pointed to what the expanded URL archived claimed to be? These are 140 character type-bites! There's no space to have internal context - the majority of their meaning is in all the tweets they reply to, and that reply to them!

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

Working...