Politwoops.sunlightfoundation.com: Politicians’ deleted tweets

Lacey Mason, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – We won’t soon forget former New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter snafu, where he is thought to have mistakenly sent a picture of himself in underwear to all his followers.

Weiner deleted the scandalous tweet right away – but it was too late. Too many had saved it, even more had seen it and the puns were just too easy.

Not all deleted tweets are as self-maligning as Weiner’s and not all politicians who make Twitter slip-ups are as high-profile, but a website launched last May aims to collect them all going forward.

Politwoops follows and records the tweets from members of Congress, the president and candidates, providing links and screenshots and highlighting the time it took to delete the erroneously transmitted tweet. Or, that is, to attempt to delete it.

Modeled after a similar site from the Netherlands, the Sunlight Foundation says of the archive that it “serves as an illuminating rough draft of how politicians and campaigns hone their social media messaging and amend their record.”

Not all of the tweets collected are shocking. Many contain typos or were deleted for no apparent reason at all. The section related to President Barack Obama and the White House, for example, contains dozens of deleted tweets. But most seemed pretty tame, with several appearing to be mistaken retweets.

Others, however, get a little more interesting. Ten months ago, Republican Sen. John McCain’s account, in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin crying after being re-elected, tweeted: “Dear Vlad, Surprise! Surprise! You won. The people of #Russia are crying too!”

After two minutes of thought, the tweet was deleted.

Sometimes, politicians’ Twitter accounts do get hacked – and not Weiner-hacked. They actually get hacked. They don’t get a pass from Politwoops, however.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, for example, was hacked in January of last year by Anonymous.

“Dear Iowans, vote against ACTA, SOPA, and PIPA, because this man, Chuck Grassley, wants YOUR internet censored and all of that BS,” the group tweeted. At the time, Grassley supported SOPA and PIPA. He has since withdrawn his approval.

Tweets on Politwoops can be narrowed into categories by state, party and/or position. This makes it easy to find the errant blurbs relevant to you. Here are tweets from Virginia, Maryland and D.C.

All in all, Politwoops is a great resource in accountability from our government leaders.

But it’s also a lesson: When it comes to the Internet – everything is forever.

Follow @LaceyWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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