Any of us who grew up with Friendster, MySpace and the early days of Facebook and Twitter, have probably over shared a drunk update or compromising photo that yields a grimace and a face palm looking back at it today. We’ve all become a bit more savvy (hopefully), in what we post online these days. But how to easily review every 140 character masterpiece you’ve ever put out there so you can purge those questionable ones from 2008?
Answer: Your Twitter Archive.
It’s actually very well designed, easy to access, and best of all, it’s not a third-party app you have to install or give access to. Nope, the Twitter Archive was announced by Twitter a few months ago and you probably already have access to it as they continue to slowly roll it out to everyone with a Twitter account.
So, how to get yours? I’ve found that you can’t easily request it from a mobile device for some reason. The various Twitter apps for iPhones, iPads, mobile browsers and what-not are somewhat limited and some of your account settings aren’t available on those. It’s best to login to Twitter on an old-fashioned desktop browser.
I know. Quaint.
Anyway, login to your Twitter account and click on the little gear icon and select Settings. If you scroll down to the bottom of your Settings page, you should see an item near the bottom called Your Twitter Archive and a Request your archive button. If for some reason you don’t see the Request your archive button, it’s probably because your account hasn’t had the Archive feature added yet by Twitter. When I first heard about the archive a couple of months ago, mine hadn’t been activated yet. It’s been a slow roll out for some.
But if you do see it, click on that request button and you’ll be presented with another window asking you to confirm that you want to Download your Twitter Archive.
In a few minutes, you’ll receive an email from Twitter telling you your Twitter Archive is ready to download with a Go Now button to begin your download.
What you get is actually pretty sweet. It’s a zip file that opens to a folder containing a local mini website. Open the folder and click on the index.html file and your browser will open with a webpage beginning with your latest Tweets on the first page.
And the beauty of the way Twitter has designed the archive is that on the right side of the page, there’s a series of little bar graphs for each year and month your Twitter account has been active.
Take a deep breath and click on one of the earlier months to see what “wisdom” you were putting out there before you knew any better.
Yikes. I know. Painful.
If you’re like me, you’ll immediately go to your very first Tweet ever. Mine was from July 2008. Seemingly a lifetime ago.
Whew. Actually not too bad.
Well. Not exactly a stop-the-presses announcement. But at least it’s about wine and not something worse. Kinda classy, even.
The great thing about the Twitter Archive though is how easy it is to get anything embarrassing out of your Twitter timeline. You know what I’m talking about. The odd,
“Could (client) be any more clueless about this project??!!”
(insert the random passive aggressive Tweet to an ex.)
Hopefully those newbie mind-lapses are few and far between. But you never know after that 4th vodka.
We all know whatever you put on the internet is out there forever, but at least deleting it from your timeline makes it more difficult for people to find less than exemplary things you’ve said in the past.
Now remember, the Twitter Archive you just downloaded is being viewed locally from your computer, which means you’re not actually viewing it online. It’s sitting on your hard drive. To delete an individual tweet from your Twitter stream, simply click on the View on Twitter link, right under the tweet in question and you’ll be taken to the online Twitter page, directly to the actual tweet that is live on the internet.
From there, you have the usual options, including the all important Delete button. You can even email or embed your past brilliance for all of us to enjoy one more time, here in the future.
So there it is. Your Twitter Archive. Even if you delete something from your online Twitter stream, you do still have a copy of it locally on the archive you downloaded, so you can privately relive your youthful glory if you wish. It’s fun to see what you were thinking years ago. Or more likely, a bit cringe-worthy. It really is a diary of your life. The only problem is that if you don’t review your online past once in a while, some of your less than brilliant thoughts are just a Google search away.
I hope this little trip down memory lane was useful to you.
Tweet classy, my friends.