May I have my tweets, please?

Twitter (may) let you download all of your tweets soon

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo
Credit: REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Are you attached to your tweets? Do you consider them valuable pieces of content that you lovingly crafted or diary entries tracking your day-to-day - or minute-to-minute - activities since you first signed up with the little blue bird? Do you want to be able to relive what you had for lunch on February 24, 2010 (and whether you enjoyed it)?

If your answer to these questions is “No” then I salute you for having your priorities straight.

If, however, your answer - like mine - is “Hells, yes!” then some (potential) good news for you came out of last week’s Online News Association conference in San Francisco. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said that by the end of this year users will be able to download their entire archive of tweets.


I love Twitter and I love tweeting. I’ve been doing it for five years to the tune of 21,143 (and counting) tweets. As one who in the past has written jokes professionally for late night TV, I’ve always viewed tweeting as a comedy writing exercise. I’ve generally tried to make my tweets entertaining (mom enjoys them, at least).

Since I view my tweets as original content that I created, I’ve also been concerned about having access to - or just having in my possession - my entire archive of tweets. It’s always been annoying to not be able to easily access or search through my entire tweet history. Why can’t I just, say, search for my tweets from December 2009 if I want to?

Dave Winer has written that tweets are content, for which Twitter pays nothing but from which it benefits greatly. If that’s the case (and I agree that it is) at the very least we should be able to get to the content that we create, shouldn’t we? Whether certain tweeters should get paid for it, is another matter for another post.

Of course, there have always been ways around this lack of functionality. My solution was to use a WordPress plugin to pull my tweets into WP, which I can then (sort of) easily search. I also have my tweets published to Facebook automatically. The Zuck and his team already make it possible for you to download all of your Facebook content, so I can also get them that way.

I’m sure there’s a way to pull my old tweets via the Twitter API but, honestly, I don’t want to spend the time to figure that out. I’m already way too behind on episodes of Honey Boo Boo as it is. Perhaps there are even third party apps or web sites that will allow you do this that I’m not aware of.

But, in the end, we shouldn’t have to jump through such hoops when the proper solution is for Twitter to simply make all of our old tweets easier to get at. It sound like they’re finally about to do that; I just hope they follow through and make it happen.

For the record, I had salad for lunch on February 24, 2010 - and I didn’t enjoy it.

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