Norway now documents all social media posts by politicians

A close up of a home screen on a smart phone. Some of the icons pictured include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

writer icon Kristine Hanson     Thomas Ulrich   |   Culture     🕐 08. Nov. 2018

The Norwegian Archives Agency, Arkivverket, will now preserve social media posts made by politicians. Even posts that are subsequently deleted will be stored in the archives.

Public service
For a little over a year, Arkivverket has been working on this new service for the public. The idea behind it is that anyone should be able to search for posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that are from accounts belonging to elected Norwegian politicians, as well as their parties and various ministries.

This is a large number of sources from which the information will be drawn. Arkivverket is collaborating with Retriever, a media analysis company. Arkivverket defines which accounts should be monitored, and Retriever searches through the platforms and lists of all the posts.

The posts are documented with a screenshot. The meta-data is also collected. In the archives, the screenshot is displayed together with a timestamp and a link to the source. It is, however, likely that the link would cease to work after some amount of time.

The text content is also included, as well as any images associated with the post. The author of the post is featured together with their profile picture and a link to their account.

Not everything is included
Due to issues with privacy, comments made on posts will not be saved. While some may feel disappointed that comments are not archived, they are still accessible via the links. At the same time, the original poster is not generally seen as responsible for the ensuing comments made by others on a post.

Although Arkivverket is able to save most of the posts made, they do not necessarily manage to capture every moment. Espen Sjøvoll, Director of Arkivverket, is responsible for the project.

He said to NRK - “We collect copies of posts on a regular basis, but there is a small time interval between each search”. This means anything that is posted and then removed within that small interval will not be collected by the search.

Painting a picture of society
The goal of the social media archive is to preserve the viewpoints, opinions, and debates made by the politicians. By doing this, they can be accessed even after they have disappeared from the web.

“The purpose is for our archives to give a picture of the Norwegian society’s development. We realised that social media has become both an important channel for community debate and everyday life for many individuals,”
Sjøvoll said to NRK. He added - “at the same time, social media is volatile.”

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