Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twitter Archives Provide a Personal Diary

I was thrilled this week when my friend @RandyKnob shared the news Twitter users would be able to download a complete history of their messages. This feature is being rolled out and is not available to everyone yet. Luckily my archive was available and I enjoyed spending hours reading what I was sharing about my life up to five years ago. I was really surprised there was no cost for this service. I was expecting it to generate revenue for Twitter and I would have paid a reasonable fee.

Using to download archives
The first step to find out if your archive can be downloaded is to check your Twitter settings.





Click on your Twitter settings and scroll all the way down to the bottom.

If you’re lucky you’ll see “Your Twitter Archive” with a button that says something like “Send email”. Since I’ve already downloaded my archive my button says Resend email.  If your archive isn’t available yet you won’t have anything between Country and Deactivate my account.


In my case, even with over five years of data I instantly had an Email available.
My Email arrived with both an AOL friendly link to a download page and a copy of the actual link which I’ve blurred out. I was happy to see that the ID for downloading my tweets appeared long enough to protect users from curious folks like myself.  If the ID wasn’t secure it might be possible to guess random numbers and download someone else’s archive. Since most Twitter feeds are public it may not be a big deal but I’m sure someone will still figure out a way to download the archives of random people.

Caution: New Phishing attacks coming
I would also be wary of Email that comes out of the blue saying you have a Twitter archive available. You won’t receive this Email unless you request it from Twitter. Just like all the eBay, PayPal, Bank, UPS, Wire conformation I expect we’ll be seeing fake Twitter Emails claiming to be an archive of your Tweets.


Once available it was an easy download. One gotcha is since it includes many files to make a nice presentation the download will be a .zip file.  You’ll need to extract all the files into a folder and then click on the index.html file. I recommend creating a new folder and just extract the zip file into the new folder.


One nice touch is in the data sub folder you’ll find separate .csv files for each month so if you want you can view all your tweets in Excel or other spreadsheet program.

For me having a diary of many of my personal activities is extremely valuable. Over recent years my wife has had many hospitalizations and tests. Our local Ellis Hospital has been completely messing up our billing so now I can compare my old tweets to actual events.

My First Tweet

It was nice to know that my first Tweet was March 9th, 2007. I made one more boring tweet that month and never tweeted again until August when I shared news of my trip to Germany. I’d like to think my Tweets became more interesting. There’s no doubt after reading my old tweets that I’ve had the pleasure to make many new friends and follow some good people.

I love stats and January 2009 was my most active month with 279 tweets.  Many were related to Windows 7 and my upcoming MVP Summit. I was very surprised when I discovered tinyurls like were still active.  I expected many url shortening services would have a limit to their availability.  I was also able to confirm my predictions for 2009 were close to perfect.

Friends I Appreciate Even More
One special advantages of reviewing old Tweets is noticing I have amazing friends. They may not RT all my specials anymore but I owe a lot to folks who over the last five years have helped in one way or another encourage folks to upgrade to @WinPatrol PLUS. Thanks to @EdBott  @ChrisPirillo  @SecurityGarden  @TeMerc  @MSSpringBoard  @DaveZatz  @ryanranaine @kimkomando and many more.

While there were concrete reasons for having access to my old tweets mostly it’s just really fun to look back and see what was going on in my life and others.

Since there are still many without access to their archive I’ve copied the readme.txt file below.
# How to use your Twitter archive data

The simplest way to use your Twitter archive data is through the archive browser interface provided in this file. Just double-click `index.html` from the root folder and you can browse your entire history of Tweets from inside your browser.
In the `data` folder, your Twitter archive is present in two formats: JSON and CSV exports by month and year.

* CSV is a generic format that can be imported into many data tools, spreadsheet applications, or consumed simply using a programming language.

## JSON for Developers
* The JSON export contains a full representation of your Tweets as returned by v1.1 of the Twitter API. See for more information.
* The JSON export is also used to power the archive browser interface (index.html).
* To consume the export in a generic JSON parser in any language, strip the first and last lines of each file.

To provide feedback, ask questions, or share ideas with other Twitter developers, join the discussion forums on

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