Forest fires in California, the plane landing on the Hudson river, the Mumbai hotel attacks - these historical events and many more have been recorded by everyday people on the ground, using Twitter. The historic record may be much, much richer as a result - but you can't access it through search.twitter.com right now.
Many people have worried that the inaccessibility of historical Twitter search results might mean that the messages weren't being saved at all. Company co-founder Biz Stone told us otherwise by email today, though. Twitter is in fact saving all the tweets. You just can't access them through search "right now."
We wrote to Twitter to inquire about the company's stated plans to scrub forthcoming geolocation data from messages after 14 days. That plan is said to be aimed at avoiding subpoenas, though the publishing of the location data at all is opt-in in the first place.
Scrubbed geolocation data after two weeks and no way to access historical information at all? That sounded like a pretty bum deal for a world-changing new communication platform. So we emailed to ask.
This was the reply we received from Biz Stone: "We definitely save all the tweets although you're right in noting that our search focuses more on newer content right now. And yes, the plan is to drop the coordinates after 14 days."
There you go. Now that Twitter is putting $100 million more into the bank, it would be great to see some of those resources dedicated to making information retrieval on the service a first class function. The future would be thankful.