Politwoops: A Boring Thing That Could Prove Very Useful

Posted by Cord Jefferson

politwoops

The big chatter on the internet today is about Politwoops, a new project from the Sunlight Foundation that tracks and records deleted tweets from American politicians. Twitter is becoming an increasingly valuable tool for our elected representatives, and as humiliated former congressman Anthony Weiner can tell you, it's also become a place where people can make embarrassing, career-ruining mistakes. With such high stakes on Twitter, a tool like Politwoops could prove very valuable one day when, say, a senator tweets a racial slur out of anger before immediately trying to scrub it away. Today, however, Politwoops is very boring.

It's not Politwoops' fault, of course. Like a flashlight, many tools are bland and useless until the moment the lights go out and you need them. Today you can see a handful of instances of people saying actually embarrassing things, like Florida Congressman Jeff Miller being a birther, but most of the deletions are misspellings and poor grammar, the same stuff most Twitter users delete. Other deleted tweets are the kinds of lighthearted jokes and interactions people have with each other online, including a long, funny back-and-forth between former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer and7 comedian Michael Ian Black. There's nothing unsavory about the tweets, and that they were deleted is telling. If anything, Politwoops is a good reminder of politicians' absolute terror of being human nowadays.