The National Archives will not be allowed to resurrect Donald Trump’s tweets on the social network, Twitter said on Wednesday, even in its official capacity as a record-keeping organization. However the archive is working to create a separate record of the former president’s tweets on his official library website.
The former president has been permanently banned from Twitter since January, when the company became the first major social media platform to eject Trump after his behavior during the Capitol insurrection.
The confirmation that Trump’s tweets cannot be revived for archival purposes, first reported by Politico, highlights the ongoing debate on what should become of Trump’s digital legacy. In the weeks and months after, many free speech advocates have argued there should be a public record of what the president has said – even if it is no longer allowed on the platforms where he frequently posted controversial and hateful rhetoric.
In the past the National Archives, an independent agency charged with preserving government and historical records, has maintained living records of other significant Twitter accounts by linking back to the accounts themselves from its presidential websites. That means users can interact with them, including retweeting and favoriting them.
For example, National Archives maintains the Twitter account of the former first lady Melania Trump, @flotus45, as well as the former Trump administration account @whitehouse45.
This will not be the case with Trump, according to the Politico report, though the National Archives is in the process of preserving tweets from the @realDonaldTrump “as is standard with any administration transition”, said Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy, according to Politico.
“Given that we permanently suspended @realDonaldTrump, the content from the account will not appear on Twitter as it did previously or as archived administration accounts do currently, regardless of how Nara decides to display the data it has preserved,” Kennedy said. “Administration accounts that are archived on the service are accounts that were not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”
The National Archives will still be making Trump’s tweets visible, including those that Twitter has taken action against. It is working out the best way to do so, said the Nara spokesperson James Pritchett. It is possible the tweets could be saved by screenshot rather than by linking to a live account.
“Twitter is solely responsible for the decision of what content is available on their platform,” Pritchett said. “Nara works closely with Twitter and other social media platforms to maintain archived social accounts from each presidential administration, but ultimately the platform owners can decline to host these accounts. Nara preserves platform independent copies of social media records and is working to make that content available to the public.”
Facebook and YouTube also banned Trump after the Capitol attack. YouTube has said it would reinstate Trump after the “risk of violence has passed” and Facebook’s third-party review board is debating whether and when the former president can return.