PostGhost was a nascent website that archived the tweets of the famous, rich, and important. The site got popular for finding and storing the deleted Tweets of politicians and even Lindsay Lohan who plead with the English PM to #remain.
“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. 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 reauthorized to publish certain deleted tweets,” wrote the creators.
Twitter emailed the group threatening to shut down their API access for the crime of displaying deleted Tweets. This crime, which could be traced to European data deletion laws and/or a desire to improve the general popularity of the evanescent Tweet, is banned by Twitter’s terms of service.
There are two schools of thought when something like this happens. The first is that it’s Twitter’s prerogative to censor anything and all the things. It’s their sandbox and we just play in it.
The second school of thought says that Twitter is free-riding on our time and attention and in exchange for that they should work with their readers and users in a sane way. Public figures say stupid things all the time and, in some cases, its massively important that they aren’t allowed to delete their beliefs especially in matters of state. While it’s not important that J.K. Rowling deleted a politically charged Tweet it is important that Rep. Joe Walsh deleted an incitement to race war.
PostGhost notes that its targets are all public figures and that they can expect a level of privacy until they Tweet out to millions of followers.
“Of course, not every Twitter user should have their deleted tweets recorded – most people use Twitter as a personal account, and we firmly agree with Twitter’s commitment to their privacy,” wrote the PostGhost admins. “However, Twitter maintains a list of public figures called verified users – about 0.05% of their user base – for whom Twitter acts as an outsized, instantaneous megaphone to reach vast numbers of followers.”
Interestingly the site only existed for a few days – launching July 6 – before giving up the ghost. Sites like Politiwoops are still running because they have a more tacit understanding with Twitter. Turning the firehose upon politicians and public figures, apparently, isn’t part of that understanding.