Twitter finally giving access to entire Tweet history

Feature to begin rolling out today, but could take weeks or months to reach all users

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 19, 2012
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Twitter may be the second largest social network, having passed the 200 million active user milestone just yesterday, but it still has some catching up to do with its rivals.

Months after Twitter CEO Dick Costolo teased the news to the New York Times all the way back in July, Twitter has finally begun to roll out the ability for users to go back and download their entire Twitter archive.

“It’s no secret: You make Twitter what it is. And if you tweet, you may have found yourself wanting to go back in time and explore your past Tweets. Maybe you wanted to recall your reaction to the 2008 election, reminisce on what you said to your partner on your 10th anniversary, or just see your first few Tweets. We know lots of you would like to explore your Twitter past,” Mollie Vandor, part of the User Services Engineering Team, wrote in a blogpost Wednesday.

Users will have access to their entire Tweet history, including retweets. They can be viewed by month, or can be searched using specific words, phrases, hashtags or @usernames. User can engage with their old Tweets the same way they can with current ones.

It is pretty likely that you don’t have access to this feature yet, though, as Twitter says it is rolling it out "slowly," only to a small percentage of English speaking users.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll make it available to all users around the world, for all the languages we offer. We’re really excited to bring this feature to everyone, and we appreciate your patience as we work to do so,” Vandor wrote.

To check if you do have access, simply go to Settings and then scroll down to the bottom of the page to check for the option to request your Twitter archive. If the option is there, click the button and you will receive an email with instructions on how to access your archive when it’s ready for you to download. 

The project was built during on of Twitter’s quarterly Hack Weeks, where employees get together into groups and work on a variety of projects. The end result can sometimes lead to an actual Twitter product, as it did in this case.

It is good that Twitter has finally decided to unveiled this project, albeit slowly, as both Facebook, with its Download Your Information tool, and Google, which has Google Takeout, a service that “allows you to download a copy of your data stored within Google products,” both already have similar features.

Previously, in order for Twitter users to access the same information, they were forced to go through third-party platforms, such as oldtweetsBackupMyTweets or Beckism.

While Twitter is giving its users access to their own Tweets, they will not have the ability to see what others have posted, like they would on a Facebook Timeline, for example.

In July, Costolo told the New York Times that, while users would be able to go through their own history, they would not have access every tweet put out by every user.

“It’s two different search problems,” Costolo told the Times. “It’s a different way of architecting search, going through all tweets of all time. You can’t just put three engineers on it.”

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