Migration II: The Final Plea

As I said in a previous post, I have been migrating the bread and butter of my hobby from social media to this website. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s going. And until this point, when I talk about social media, I’ve made references to ‘the bird site’ to avoid engaging with a bunch of billionaire’s fanatics.

I’m going to stop being coy. It’s Twitter. And it’s going to shit.

I’m also not making this post to navel gaze. What I’ve been doing is salvaging 6+ years of something I’ve poured much time and energy into. And I’m really worried there’s other major content creators on Twitter who are not saving their work, and letting it circle the drain.

Whether it’s large disorganized layoffs, minor back-end hiccups piling up, or breaking the ability to log in, there’s lots of signs that the site is at a real risk of failure. Even if it doesn’t happen and Twitter is rescued from the brink, it’s easy and important to save your work.

I did this in a Twitter thread already, but I’ve now made this blog post as a last appeal to content creators like me to save your Twitter data, and give you a quick rundown of what a backed-up data archive looks like.

1. Downloading the Archive

You can archive every tweet, and the accompanying media (photos and videos) into a tidy zipped folder. On a desktop, the first step is to go into settings, and find “Download an archive of your data” under Your Account. After confirming it’s you, you can then request your archive. It can take up to 24 hours to process. You’ll get a notification when it’s ready.

2. Opening Your Archive

After downloading your archive, unzip the folder. This leaves you with three items:

  1. Assets; mostly back-end stuff like icons, fonts, emojis, scripts, etc.
  2. Data: This contains all of your pictures and video.
  3. Your archive.html; this opens your twitter archive in a browser, with all the info pulled from this offline archive.

Now here’s one huge shortcoming with a Twitter archive: you can’t actually view a thread. The first tweet will be under “Tweets”, but any subsequent tweets in the thread are standalone tweet “Replies”. If you can find the first tweet, and all of the subsequent tweets in the thread followed in short order, it won’t be a huge deal. The workaround is: a) Sort by oldest first, b) Use date filter, from the date of the thread. An example below is one of my walk threads.

But if you have a thread sporadically assembled over days, weeks, months…it may be a little more difficult. If someone knows of or makes a fix for this, please let me know. It’s not a big problem for me personally, but it’d be handy.

A last note: like any other important data, don’t save it in one spot. Back your archive up in the cloud, and/or on external hard drives.

3. Working with your Data

Now that you have your content downloaded, you can re-organize it for your needs. The default has a long weird name. From the archive, all you gotta do right-click, “Save picture as…”, rename it, and save it in a folder so that it makes sense to you. For me, that means organizing by date, for example, and numbering them in chronological order.

From here, you can now easily refer back to it, or re-share it on another social media platform, or host it on your own website. Here is an example of a Twitter thread migrated from the bird site to my own page. It is now in my domain, and as a bonus, I’m able to fix typos, add extra content, and link to other stuff. I was able to assemble all this from my offline archive.

So I hope this post is useful. If you’re a content creator like me, I hope it encourages you to a) not let all your hard work go to waste, and b) consider redeploying it for your audience to enjoy. Even if you don’t consider yourself a content creator, it’s fun to look back on your past tweets.

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