Twitter has shut off access to 31 accounts that chronicled and archived the deleted tweets of politicians, diplomats and embassies around the world.
The move follows the social network’s earlier blocking of Politwoops US, which archived deleted tweets by American lawmakers.
The Open State Foundation, which oversees the Twitter accounts, was informed by Twitter of the impending ban on Friday night.
In a statement provided to the Open State Foundation, Twitter said its decision followed a “thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors”.
It added: “Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable? No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user’s voice.”
Open State Foundation director, Arjan El Fassed, said: “What elected politicians publicly say is a matter of public record. Even when tweets are deleted, it’s part of parliamentary history. These tweets were once posted and later deleted.
“What politicians say in public should be available to anyone. This is not about typos but it is a unique insight on how messages from elected politicians can change without notice.”
The British version of Politwoops is amongst the sites affected. Its Twitter account, @deletedbyMPs, has not posted since Friday evening as a result of the closure. Its website, however, continues to archive deleted tweets, with the most recent example being a retweet by Labour MP Andrew Gwynne, unretweeted on Saturday.
Jules Mattsson, who runs the DeletedbyMPs account, said: “It’s a terrible shame that twitter have made this decision. Politwoops has been an important new tool in political accountability in the UK and abroad. Politicians are all too happy to use social media to campaign but if we lose the ability for this to be properly preserved, it becomes a one way tool.
“Social media is playing an increasing role in British politics and this denies us an opportunity to extend proper accountability to social platforms. The Labour leadership race has reminded us of the importance of politicians’ past sentiments in making informed decisions.
“This issue is a world away from any legitimate arguments over privacy in the internet age – MPs’ public statements as politicians are an entirely different matter.
“Tracking and archiving deleted tweets from MPs is absolutely in the public interest and hopefully Twitter will reconsider with that in mind.”
In June, after it blocked the US version of Politwoops, Twitter stated that “honouring the expectation of user privacy for all accounts is a priority for us, whether the user is anonymous or a member of Congress”.