Last month, Twitter announced that users now finally have access to a feature called Your Twitter Archive. Being that we are in the business of archiving social media, you might not expect us to be excited. On the contrary, we think this is fantastic news. One of the most frustrating issues facing our customers is the fact that Twitter timelines have always been limited to the most recent 3,200 tweets. Hence, even though ArchiveSocial can pull the history of an account into our fully indexed and legally-sound archive, we haven’t been able to pull the entire history for some of our most prolific Twitter users.  The fact that users can now access their entire timeline is the basic reason why everyone is talking about the Twitter archive announcement. We are really glad to see this restriction removed for our users, and we hope that the Twitter API will provide us with access beyond 3,200 tweets in the near future.

The Twitter Archive Misnomer

Unfortunately, the announcement has also caused some confusion that we would like to clarify. In particular, some folks are wondering what the difference is between our version of a Twitter archive and Twitter’s own archive. Well, it turns out that there is a bit of a terminology issue. Twitter’s archive is not truly an archive. Why? It all boils down to the following fundamental issue:

Your Twitter Archive (i.e. the one you can access from your own Twitter account on Twitter.com) does not contain past tweets that were deleted.

Why Your Twitter Archive is not an Archive

The official Twitter archive does not preserve deleted tweets.

In other words, Twitter’s “archive” is actually a snapshot rather than an archive; it is a snapshot of all of the tweets that currently still reside in your account. This point is especially critical for businesses to understand.  A business cannot rely on Twitter (or Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube for that matter) for record retention. Every regulation we’ve seen regarding business record keeping is clear that a record must be preserved, even if the original communication is later deleted. This includes SEC regulations, FINRA rules, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements, and state-level public records laws.

The Two Sides of a Twitter Archive

In addition to the fact that deleted tweets are missing from the Twitter archive, there is another problem with it. It only contains your own tweets (and tweets that you retweeted).

Your Twitter archive (again, the one provided by Twitter on Twitter.com) does not contain direct messages, mentions, or replies you’ve received.

Why Your Twitter Archive is not an Archive

The official Twitter archive does not preserve direct messages, or tweets you've received from others

In other words, Twitter’s “archive” is one-sided and incomplete. From a business record retention standpoint,  communications received are just as important as communications sent. Regulations such as SEC, FINRA, and FOIA in fact require that businesses maintain records of communications that are received. And as all businesses know, when it comes to social media, what others are saying is often much more concerning and important than the content under your control.

 

A Twitter Archive Your Business Can Rely On

In conclusion, we hope that we haven’t popped your Twitter archive bubble. We think it is fantastic that users can now get to the entire (non-deleted) history of their own Twitter timeline. At that same time, we want to make sure folks — and particularly businesses with record keeping needs — are fully aware of what constitutes a Twitter archive. At ArchiveSocial, we are committed to providing the most comprehensive, business-grade social media archive available. Our archive maintains records of tweets even after they are deleted. It archives records of  public and private communications, including all of the communications you’ve received from others. And, of  course, we archive more than just Twitter.

There is a lot more that we would love to tell you about ArchiveSocial’s archiving capabilities — especially in regards to our search and export features — but we’ll save that for another time. Our goal in this post is to clarify any confusion you might have about the difference between Twitter’s “archive” and a social media archiving solution like ArchiveSocial. If you have further questions, please feel free to give us a call (888-558-6032) or leave a comment below, and we’ll be happy to help. Tweet on.