“Protest rally against Skouries at Propylaia.” This tweet by conservative MP Adonis Georgiadis was probably a surprise to his over 20,000 followers, but if there’s one thing they have learned from his presence in the social media, it is that there’s nothing they can’t expect.
The same goes for the followers of New Democracy’s Vassilis Kikilias, who one day saw him sharing a tweet with, well, himself: “Good morning Vassilis!” the former basketball player tweeted.
“The list was published thanks to SYRIZA,” tweeted leftist opposition leader Alexis Tsipras – who has otherwise been rather laconic on the microblog service – with regard to the Lagarde list of possible tax cheats.
Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris did not seem to make much sense either when he addressed the world saying, “What’s up, little girl?”
As for Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos, he should be glad to know that he was not the first politician out there to confuse the Aegean Sea’s hydrocarbon deposits with the fattening carbohydrates. In fact, that was PASOK’s leader, Evangelos Venizelos.
These are only some of the deleted tweets retrieved by the Politwoops website (politwoops.igraphics.gr). The digital snippets were removed by their users, instantly or after days, because they either contained promises that never materialized, or blatant typos and gaffes, or because they were composed in the heat of the moment.
However, nothing can be kept secret from Politwoops, which tracks the official accounts of 181 politicians and keeps a record of all their Twitter feed. When a politician decides to remove one of his or her tweets, the deleted message automatically goes into a separate file, along with a screenshot of the attached link if there is one. The people behind igraphics.gr, who brought the service here from the Netherlands, will then inspect the deleted tweet to understand why it was removed.
The collection of Politwoops, which began to track Greek politicians in October last year, already holds more than 2,000 tweets. It also provides information about how they were shared (via computer, tablet or smartphone), the deletion date and the time they were online before they disappeared. Users can browse the denounced tweetage by category, such as region, party, office or reason for deletion.
Politwoops was first launched by the nonprofit Open State Foundation in the Netherlands to follow the country’s members of parliament and town council representatives. The aim was to improve monitoring of politicians and strengthen transparency. Politwoops proved to be a useful tool in the hands of citizens as well as journalists and it quickly spread to 19 countries around the world. The maybe-forgotten-but-never-entirely-gone tweets can provide useful information about the way our political system operates.
It’s interesting, for example, that Antonis Manitakis, now minister for administrative reform and e-governance, had shared an article which slammed members of the union of secondary school teachers OLME as “pederasts” and “worms.” The tweet was removed after 14 minutes.
In an attack against Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, ND’s Evangelos Antonaros tweeted that “a minister, and what is more a minister of justice, who questions laws passed in Parliament has no place in any government.” The tweet disappeared two minutes later.
Two weeks later, Giorgos Mouroutis, a spokesman for ND, erased a tweet which said that “the government will this year scrap the haratsi [the emergency property tax].” He erased it two days later after Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras announced that the conservative-led coalition government would continue to collect the tax via the electricity bills.
Having just found out that former Prime Minister and Socialist party leader George Papandreou was about to travel abroad again, PASOK’s Eva Kaili tweeted, “Should he perhaps take an unpaid leave?” Her message was taken down 22 hours later.
When Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, the former Thessaloniki mayor given a life sentence for embezzling some 18 million euros, sent a letter from prison challenging anyone with “the smallest piece of concrete evidence that I participated in embezzling the the Municipality of Thessaloniki” to declare it on television, ND’s Eliza Vozemberg described it on Twitter as “serious.” She changed her mind 34 minutes later.
The outspoken Yiannis Manolis attacked Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis: “You formerly state-fed unionist, why are you provoking us? Please let the world know how much a trip to Pieria costs.”
Reading deleted tweets can be a hilarious experience. “Pasta is almost ready,” ND PM Yiannis Karambelas tweeted on a late night when he was hungry. Meanwhile, Kammenos appeared to miss the sarcasm when he retweeted a tweep who wished him “Sweet dreams, Mr President.”