In an age of rapid-fire social media interactions, we all say things that we wish we could, and sometimes we do, take back. Now, a new tool from the Sunlight Foundation makes that feat even harder for a portion of the population particularly known for putting their foot in their mouth: politicians.
The non-profit organization, dedicated to promoting government transparency, just got a little closer to that goal this week with the unveiling of Politwoops, an enormous collection of tweets deleted by U.S. politicians in the past six months. The project follows the official Twitter accounts of members of Congress, President Barack Obama, the Republican presidential candidates, and a slew of other figures to reveal the typos, thoughtless statements and awkward lines that apparently didn't land well.
Even better, the tool allows users to see the time the tweet was posted and the elapsed time before its removal, a sliver of insight into how long it takes certain officials -- or their staff -- to realize something was completely off the mark.
The site mimics Twitter's layout, automatically updating itself every time it tracks a deleted tweet. More often than not, it's not completely clear just why a tweet was deleted if you're not familiar with the politician. Still, the strangely humanizing tool sometimes provides a look into what politicians really think of certain issues or events -- something that they, apparently, don't want us to have.
Some of the more amusing deletions on record include Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., comparing the reality television show The Bachelor to the popular young adult series The Hunger Games, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, mocking the tears of recently re-elected Russian president Vladimir Putin.
You can also find a series of tweets rapidly deleted after someone hacked into Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley's, account (sample: Dear Iowans, vote against ACTA, SOPA and PIPA, because this man, Chuck Grassley, wants YOUR internet censored and all of that BS) as well as Florida Republican congressman Jeff Miller's attempt to propagate birther conspiracy theories before thinking twice about it.