archive_junta.py, the Fascist-Tweet-Archiving Script

Overview

The archive_junta.py script runs on one of my spare laptops, constantly listening for new tweets on certain Twitter accounts associated with specific members of the current American corporatist junta. When new tweets on those accounts occur, it uses the Internet Archive to create an offsite copy of those tweets. At the beginning, it just watched Donald Trump's Twitter accounts; but I've been gradually expanding, in a non-systematic way, the scope of its areas of attention.

The full list of accounts currently archived the operation of this script on my spare laptop is:

AccountDate archiving beganNotes
@POTUS1 February 2017President of the United States
@realDonaldTrump1 February 2017Personal account of Donald Trump, who is unfortunately the president of the United States
@VP22 February 2017Vice President of the United States
@mike_pence22 February 2017Personal account of Mike Pence, vice president of the United States
@GovPenceIN22 February 2017Pence's account that he used while governor of Indiana
@Scavino4523 March 2017Director of social media for Donald Trump
@DanScavino23 March 2017Personal account for Trump's director of social media
@FLOTUS7 April 2017First lady of the US
@MELANIATRUMP7 April 2017Personal account for the First Lady
@IvankaTrump7 April 2017Daughter to the junta leader, wife of his senior adviser, and general assistant without portfolio
@IvankaTrumpHQ7 April 2017Business account for the Glorious Leader's daughter
@jaredkushner7 May 2017Senior adviser to the POTUS, and husband of his more famous daughter
@SpeakerRyan7 May 2017Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
@PRyan7 May 2017Personal account for the Speaker of the House
@AshLeeStrong7 May 2017Press secretary for Paul Ryan
@Reince21 May 2017White House Chief of Staff
@Reince4521 May 2017White House Chief of Staff
@KellyannePolls21 May 2017Counselor and assistant to the president
@StephenMillerAL21 May 2017Assistant to the president and senior adviser for policy
@JessicaDitto4521 May 2017Assistant to the president and senior adviser for policy
@seanspicer21 May 2017Press secretary
@PressSec21 May 2017Press secretary
@WhiteHouse4 June 2017Official account for the White House, whatever that means exactly
@SecElaineChao22 June 2017Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation
@ElaineChao22 June 2017Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation
@SecretarySonny22 June 2017Sonny Purdue, Secretary of USDA
@SecretaryZinke22 June 2017Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Interior
@SecretaryRoss22 June 2017Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce
@WilburRoss22 June 2017Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce
@SecretaryAcosta22 June 2017Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta
@SecretaryCarson22 June 2017HUD Secretary Ben Carson
@RealBenCarson22 June 2017HUD Secretary Ben Carson
@SecPriceMD22 June 2017Dr Thomas Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services
@RepTomPrice22 June 2017Dr Thomas Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services
@TomBossert4522 June 2017Thomas Bossert, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
@StephGrisham4522 June 2017Stephanie Grisham, Office of the First Lady & Director of Communications for Melania Trump
@EPAScottPruitt22 June 2017EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt
@SecondLady22 June 2017Second Lady Karen Pence
@FirstLadyIN22 June 2017Second Lady Karen Pence

My intent is to get a neutral third party to create publicly accessible backups of the tweets before they can be deleted, because a neutral third-party archive is a more credible source than a screenshot that I produced on my own computer and totally swear I didn't alter. (It's also easier to produce automatically.)

Where can I see the tweets archived by your script?

The script produces an index for each account it tracks as it runs. These indices are in the .csv format, which is easily importable into any spreadsheet program; they are hosted both on Dropbox and in the project GitHub page. (The Dropbox-hosted copies are should usually be automatically updated within a minute or so; the GitHub-hosted copies are easier to read from the web, but only updated when I manually update them, which usually means when I am updating the GitHub data anyway or when I happen to remember to do it.) You can also search through the Internet Archive-hosted tweets using the Internet Archive's interface.

If you are unhappy with the display options, it's probably wisest to download the current .csv from Dropbox and search through it using your favorite spreadsheet program. If you want to have the ability to search directly from this webpage, contact me and make an offer to finance hosting such a service, and we'll talk.

AccountDropbox index
(most up-to-date)
GitHub index
(easier to read)
Search
(via Internet Archive)
@POTUS here here here
@realDonaldTrump here here here
@VP here here here
@mike_pence here here here
@GovPenceIN here here here
@Scavino45 here here here
@DanScavino here here here
@FLOTUS here here here
@MELANIATRUMP here here here
@IvankaTrump here here here
@IvankaTrumpHQ here here here
@jaredkushner Has not tweeted yet (please let me know if this is no longer correct)
@SpeakerRyan here here here
@PRyan here here here
@AshLeeStrong here here here
@Reince here here here
@Reince45 here here here
@KellyannePolls here here here
@StephenMillerAL here here here
@JessicaDitto45 here here here
@seanspicer here here here
@PressSec here here here
@WhiteHouse here here here
@SecElaineChao not yet fully archived
@ElaineChao not yet fully archived
@SecretarySonny not yet fully archived
@SecretaryZinke not yet fully archived
@SecretaryRoss not yet fully archived
@WilburRoss not yet fully archived
@SecretaryAcosta not yet fully archived
@SecretaryCarson not yet fully archived
@RealBenCarson not yet fully archived
@SecPriceMD not yet fully archived
@RepTomPrice not yet fully archived
@TomBossert45 not yet fully archived
@StephGrisham45 not yet fully archived
@EPAScottPruitt not yet fully archived
@SecondLady not yet fully archived
@FirstLadyIN not yet fully archived

If you want to see a tweet from me every time the script detects a deleted tweet from , you can follow me on Twitter.

Why would you even bother to get a machine to archive these tweets in the first place?

Because words matter, especially the words spoken by elected officials; they have wide-ranging effects even after their material presence has evaporated into the ether. Donnie's profound contempt for facts and his repeated insistence on inventing them are both troubling, and I suspect that there's a connection with the surprisingly frequent deletion of his own posts on Twitter.

When The Donald deletes a tweet, that doesn't mean that the deleted words have had no effect; they still influence the thoughts and behavior of (at least some of) his supporters. All it really means is that the effect is harder to trace back to the suddenly absent cause. My thought is that producing an archive that's accessible to the public at an external source helps to reinforce, in a small way, the underlying discursive structures upon which a functioning democracy depends.

What do you think it means that Little Don-Don and his friends delete their tweets?

I think that depends entirely on which tweet we're talking about.

You will note that I have not claimed that tweets should never be deleted, nor that the removal of any particular post necessarily means anything that I'm qualified to talk about. You may also note that I have sometimes deleted my own tweets, usually—but not always—to correct a typographical error. (But then, I am not a government official, and so the standard for me is lower than it is for someone who has been given a large amount of public trust.) In any case, I think that preserving an archive of what our current president and his cadre say is very important, and it's relatively easy to do.

Should I myself run a copy of this script?

Maybe! As for me, I'm just running the script on a spare laptop in my apartment, and that's not a perfect setup: my electricity or Internet service could go out, or the laptop could overheat, or its old hardware might be running the script too slowly to catch a tweet before it's erased, or any number of other things could go wrong. Having several people—certainly more than a dozen or so would be overkill—all running this script (or taking similar actions) would provide a level of redundancy that would help to make always capturing every tweet at least once much more likely.

On the other hand, if way too many people decide to volunteer in this way, that would unnecessarily burden the infrastructures of both the Internet Archive and Twitter for little to no practical benefit. So my suggestion is this: if you plan to run another copy of this script, let me know (hit me up on Twitter), and I'll keep an up-to-date count (and/or tally) here.

To the best of my knowledge, there are currently no other people running this script remotely.

Given all of that, you can download the script on GitHub, if you'd like.

Does this script ensure there is a complete archive of all of Trump's (and the others') tweets?

No. There are at least two groups of tweets that the script is not archiving:

  1. Very old tweets. The Twitter API only allows access to someone's last 3200 or so tweets, so the first tweet this script archived was probably produced by Donnie somewhere around March 2016. I have not made any attempt to go back and algorithmically save older Trump tweets, in part because that would require a totally different methodology, and quite possibly substantial manual intervention. (There are older Trump tweets archived on the Internet Archive, but they were not saved by this script.)
  2. Tweets that both appear and disappear while the script is not running. Normally, the script runs constantly, but if the power goes off in my apartment, or if the script crashes, and Donnie tweets and then deletes that tweet before the script runs again, then the tweet won't get archived. Similarly, it is possible that a tweet could get noticed but still disappear before it can be archived.

There are at least two other groups of potential problems that might, in theory, keep a tweet from being archived:

  1. The Twitter API could, in theory, not report that a tweet was posted, or could do so with a large enough delay to allow Donnie or his goony henchmen to delete it before it could be archived.
  2. It is possible, in theory, that Creepy Don or his servile brownshirt brigade might interfere with one or more of the services required for this to work.

I don't currently have cause to believe that anything has been missed for any of the reasons above except for very old tweets ... but then, if it did, how would I know? (This is part of why the reason why the redunancy of several other people running the script would be a good thing.)

Were all of the tweets I can see on the Internet Archive for these accounts saved by your script?

No. Anyone can save a web page to the Internet Archive at any time, and I am certainly not the only person who has decided to have the Internet Archive save copies of (some of) Trump's tweets. (Though, to the best of my knowledge, I am the first to think that doing so systematically is a good idea.)

How does it work?

Head on over to the GitHub project for more info!