Despite their ephemeral constantly changing nature, social media constitute an archive of public discourse. In this study, we examine when, how, and why journalists practice proactive ephemerality, deleting their tweets either manually or automatically to consider the viability of social media as a public record. Based on interviews conducted with journalists in New York City, we find many journalists delete their tweets, and that software-aided mass deletion is common, damaging Twitter’s standing as an archive. Through deletion, journalists manipulate temporality, exposing the public to a brief tweeting window to reduce risks and regain control in a precarious labor market and a harassment-ridden public sphere in which employers leave them largely unprotected. When deleting tweets mechanically, journalists emulate platform logic by depending—as commercial platforms often do—on automatic procedures rather than on human expertise. This constitutes a surrender of the very qualities that make human judgment so valuable.
|Number of pages||18|
|Journal||New Media and Society|
|State||Published - 2020|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. This work was supported by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism
© The Author(s) 2020.
- digital archives
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science