The UK’s National Archives a repository of all government documents has started collecting tweets and YouTube videos published by UK central government departments from their official Twitter and YouTube social media platforms.
This marks the culmination of a technical project to capture social media into the UK Government Web Archive and permanently preserve it as the official public record.
The UK government social media archive contains over 7,000 videos that date from 2006 to early 2014 and over 65,000 tweets from 2008 to September 2013. It covers some major events in recent history, including: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the London 2012 Olympic Games, Budget announcements and the formation of the Coalition government following the general election in 2010.
Clem Brohier, Interim Chief Executive and Keeper, The National Archives, commented: “Social media now plays an important part in government communications, with departments using Twitter to clarify policy and You Tube to promote initiatives. So it was imperative for The National Archives to develop systems to support social media archiving and for these formats to be preserved as part of the official public record. This was no small task but we rose to the challenge. It is an exciting step for archives and history; with present and future generations being able to view tweets to understand events in history, just like we do with historic telegrams today.”
Expanding the web archive
The National Archives worked with the Internet Memory Foundation to develop tools to capture the record in its original published context, preserving the content and making it permanently accessible through the UK Government Web Archive.
Since 2003, The National Archives has archived over three billion items that were published online by the UK government including web pages, documents and interactive games – and now with social media being added to the digital archive, this is set to grow enormously.