How to download your Twitter data

These days, social media companies are ravenous for data. They can’t get enough information about who we are, what we do, and – most importantly – the things we spend our money on.

A huge chunk of their profit margins comes from the way they categorize, slice and sell this data. But this isn’t just a load of dots and ones. It’s a living series of tweets which can potentially include highly confidential, revealing information.

That information can also become a problem if recruiters see controversial tweets, or friends stumble upon tweets we sent in the heat of the moment but forgot to delete. So when we look back on our archive, there are plenty of reasons to trim it down and protect our privacy.

If you have any concerns in the data department, it’s not hard to download your Twitter data. Let’s learn how it’s done.

How to download your Twitter data: everything you need to know

There are two components to Twitter data: your archive (a record of your tweets and likes etc..) and your data (which includes data collected by the social network about your personality and interests). Let’s start with how to request your archive.

Thankfully, it’s fairly simple to download this archive in .zip format. Here’s how to make the request.

  1. Log into your account as normal.
  2. Click on your profile avatar to reach your Twitter menu.
  3. .Look down the menu until you find the “Settings and Privacy” option. Click the link.
  4. Scroll down on the Settings screen, and you should see an option entitled “Request Your Archive.”
  5. Press the button. Twitter will inform you that an email is being prepared containing a copy of your archive. It may take a while to prepare this email, but don’t worry. Soon, you’ll receive a message containing a link entitled “Download Now.”
  6. When you click that link, you’ll be taken back to your Twitter profile. You’ll notice that a button called “Download” has now been bolded. Click the Download button and the .zip file mentioned earlier will be downloaded onto your computer or smartphone.

How to read and understand your Twitter history

Now that you’ve downloaded your archive, you’ll want to open it up and check that the contents are accurate. It’s contained in a standard zip file, so you’ll need an unzip app to open the archive.

When it’s been unpacked, navigate to the newly created folder and open the file entitled index.html. This is an html file, so it should automatically launch in your web browser, making it much easier to browse your tweets. And this can be done offline, in case you were wondering. There’s no need to be logged on while you analyze your archive.

When you fire up index.html, you’ll instantly find the interface familiar. All of your Tweets are organized chronologically, with separate menus for the various years you’ve been active on Twitter.

If you’re interested in your usage stats, the file also provides data about how often you tweeted in any given month. This can be really handy for marketers and bloggers who want to understand their engagement data, and it’s interesting on a personal level to see how whether our Twitter use rises or falls over time.

What other files can we check out in the downloaded archive?

While Index.html is full of interesting material, you’ll notice that it’s not the only file that Twitter provides. There’s another one called tweets.csv which might be even more valuable.

As it’s a CSV file, this document can easily be loaded into apps like Microsoft Excel, so you can integrate it with your CRM systems (if you’re analyzing your Twitter use from a professional perspective).

Basically, this document drills down into much more detail than the index file, and includes metadata about when you tweeted, who engaged with the tweet, how much reach each tweet achieved – it’s a data analyst’s dream.

Can you download any other data from Twitter?

As we noted earlier, your archive isn’t the only data Twitter holds about you. In fact, the social network stores plenty of extra information about your interests, contacts, the devices you use, and when you’ve logged in.

The good thing is that Twitter are fairly open about the data they collect. And, as with your archive, you can get hold of a readout of what they know about you pretty easily. Here’s how:

  1. Head to your account as before, and open the Profile menu.
  2. On the left hand side, choose the “Your Twitter Data” option.
  3. Confirm your password when requested, and you’ll then be sent a .zip file containing the data Twitterhold about you.

As with the archive request, there will probably be a delay between making the request and the email being sent. And when it arrives, you may be surprised by some of the contents.

For instance, some people are shocked to see that their smartphone contacts are logged by Twitter, or the range of interests Twitter has connected them with.

Take control of your Twitter data today

In an age of big data and data abuse, it’s essential to take control of your digital identity. So why not request your Twitter archive and do a little spring cleaning, or discover what the social media giant knows about your life?

It’s unlikely you’ll be quitting Twitter after you’ve discovered what they collect, but it should make you think harder about the way you use your data online.

More information on privacy and data protection – VPNpro