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What Tweets Do Politicians Delete? 'Politwoops' Can Tell You


Most of what they're catching isn't all that exciting, but the folks at the Sunlight Foundation have launched something that has the potential to expose elected officials and politicians as they try to hide embarrassing things that get on to their Twitter feeds.

Politwoops, Sunlight says, is "the only comprehensive collection of deleted tweets by U.S. politicians. From minor typos to major gaffes, Politwoops is now there to offer a searchable window into what they hoped you didn't see."

Now, from what we can tell, most of the tweets have been deleted because of things such as missing hashtags or broken links. Many are then quickly restored with the fixes made.

But there are also those such as Republican Rep. Jeff Miller's link to a Facebook poll that asked "Was Obama born in the United States?" That disappeared after 55 minutes.

All in all, it's a project to keep an eye on if you think a little sunlight is always a good thing when it comes to watching politicians.

Related note: some of those who Poiltwoops is tracking are using the attention to make points of their own — such as Republican Rep. David Schweikert's note that "#politwoops saves lost tweets, now if we can just get President Obama to save lost jobs..."

Also: As Sunlight says, "the original version of Politwoops was developed by the Open State Foundation of The Netherlands to follow the country's members of parliament and town council representatives. Twelve other international versions of the site exist, though not operated by Sunlight."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.