Tweet archiving may be available by year's end

Twitter lovers who want to smoothly save their words of wisdom for posterity may soon be able to do so.

That's what the CEO of the microblogging company predicted at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco last week.

Personal archiving will be available "before the end of the year," CEO Dick Costolo told the attendees.

Costolo's pledge was particularly timely. Earlier in the week, it was reported that two researchers at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia found that some 30 percent of recorded history shared over social networks like Twitter has disappeared.

The researchers, Hany SalahEldeen and Michael Nelson, studied data for six historic events shared through social media. They discovered that 11 percent of social media content disappeared within a year and 27 percent disappeared over two years. What's more, the pair estimate that the world loses 0.02 percent of its culturally significant social media material every day.

The Library of Congress began archiving tweets in 2010. However, it receives the tweets after they're six months old—plenty of time for plenty of content to dissolve into the ether.

Twitter competitors Google+ and Facebook allow their users to download some of the material posted to those social networks for archiving. Google has even gone so far as to lead a movement to create standards for uniform treatment of data stored on social networks. Such standards would give users better control over their data, the search giant argues.

Called "The Data Liberation Front," the group declares its mission is to unshackle the data of everyone using social networks. "We're doing this because we want our users to stay with us because they want to," the DLF says. "While locking users in is a way to keep them in the short term, we believe that the way to keep users in the long term is to keep innovating and making our products better so that they choose to stay with us."

That's not to say that there aren't ways to archive tweets now. Some of the services that let you do that are better known—Evernote, LinkedIn, Flipboard—than others—Pinboard, Diigo, Gnip, Packratius, Backupify.

Another Twitter archiving service, If This, Then That (IFTTT) has announced that it's waving the white flag over the microblogging service this week. Recent Twitter policy changes over the use of its API have made it necessary for IFTTT to cut support of the service, CEO Linden Tibbets  wrote in a letter to users on September 20.

Twitter's decision to change the rules governing its API has steamed some developers. One sore point is how the new rules give Twitter tighter control over the number of people who can use a third-party app. What Twitter is telling developers with the new rules, maintained Instapaper Marco Arment, is “Once you get big enough for us to notice, we’re going to require you to adhere to more strict, unpublished rules to make sure you don't compete with us or take too much value from our network."

It remains to be seen if Twitter's tougher stance on the use of its API will start to tarnish the brand's reputation among users. If it does, alternatives like App.net are waiting to embrace the disaffected.

Uniform Resource Identifiers shared per day corresponding to each event and showing peaks of activity.
SalahEldeen & Nelson, Old Dominion University

recommended for you

Fix This App: Twitter

Read more »

Subscribe to the Best of TechHive Newsletter

Comments