Deletion is part of the Internet’s history and predates Twitter. Today, research on the laws underlying and facilitating government social media use and deletion practices has remained limited. The question of how government agencies create their own Twitter archives and subsequently institutionalize cultural memory has also been largely unexplored. Drawing on a US case study, I argue that the lack of a standardized federal policy has led to the creation of myriad digital “memory holes” of varying porosities. I show that, when systematically drafted and deployed, research based on the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) can serve as a generative method of unearthing deleted tweets and memory narratives that might otherwise be inaccessible. Finally, I build on the US case study by offering pathways for other new media scholars to examine and trace tweeting and deleting by government employees in other jurisdictions.
"Tweeted, Deleted: An Exploratory Study of the US Government’s Digital Memory Holes." New Media & Society, 2020.