Twitter Working on Way to Retrieve Old Tweets

Twitter is working on a tool that would let users export every tweet they’ve ever made on the site, the company’s chief executive, Dick Costolo, told The New York Times.

But why would someone want all their tweets -- possibly going all the way back to 2006, when Twitter was first launched?

Facebook already lets you download a “personal archive” that includes a list of every message you’ve ever sent to someone, a list of every friend you have on the network, copies of any photos or videos you have ever uploaded to the site, and much more. I recently fetched mine and was surprised at the amount of data I’ve shared -- packaged up by Facebook into 46MB worth of files and folders -- and I consider myself a light user.

Now imagine data from Twitter’s 140 million users who are firing off 140-character tweets throughout the day, every day, whether about their own personal trivia, or their thoughts on current news as it unfolds.

In fact, Twitter has evolved into an important real-time news feed and communication tool. Consider, as examples, just a few events that have chalked up some of the highest tweets-per-second within the last year: Madonna’s Super Bowl half time show (10,245 TPS), Tim Tebow’s overtime touchdown pass during the AFC wild-card playoff game on Jan. 8 (9,420 TPS) and the death of Steve Jobs (6,049 TPS).

So the idea of a person being able to see perhaps tens of thousands of his thoughts over time, all in one place, is pretty compelling. For some people it would work out to be like a virtual diary and news chronicle all in one.

Twitter Working on Way to Retrieve Old Tweets

Currently Twitter only gives users access to a certain number of their tweets and Costolo did not say when the company would release the personal export tool it is working on. In the meantime, if retrieving old posts is important to you, try SocialSafe.net, which backs up social networks, or CloudMagic, which is a lightning-fast way to search for things across Exchange, Twitter, Gmail, Google Apps, Chat, Docs, Calendar and Contacts.

Another thing to note is the tool Twitter is developing will only be for user’s own tweets, not for digging through Twitter’s entire trove of posts.

“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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