The National Archives revealed today that it has started archiving Tweets and YouTube videos published by UK central government departments from their official accounts.

The executive agency of the Ministry of Justice said the announcement marks the culmination of a complex project to capture social media as part of the UK Government Web Archive and permanently preserve it as the official public record.

The National Archives worked with the Internet Memory Foundation to develop tools capable of capturing records in their original published context, before making it permanently accessible through the UK Government Web Archive.

The new online social media archive contains over 7,000 YouTube videos and over 65,000 individual tweets from UK central government departments currently on Twitter and YouTube.

The archived social media content, which is available from today, contains videos that date from 2006 to early 2014 and tweets from 2008 to September 2013. It covers major events in our recent history, including: the birth of the royal baby, Prince George of Cambridge; London 2012 Olympic Games; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Andy Murray winning Wimbledon in 2013.

Clem Brohier, interim chief executive and keeper at The National Archives, said it was “imperative” for the agency to develop systems to support social media archives because social media now plays an important part in government communications, with Twitter being used to clarify policy and YouTube used to promote initiatives.

She added: “This was no small task but we rose to the challenge. It is an exciting step for archives and history; with present and future generations being able to view tweets to understand events in history, just like we do with historic telegrams today.”

Archived Tweets and YouTube videos could make valuable research material, according to The National Archives.

Indeed, they will be presented with the code that comprises each tweet and the context such as the date and time of publication.

Since 2003, over three billion items that were published online by the UK Government, including web pages, documents, interactive games, have been archived by The National Archives.

The NationalArchives said it will continue to capture and archive tweets and video feeds from UK central government departments on a regular basis and develop the social media archive so that it is fully integrated into the rest of the UK Government Web Archive.