How to Download and Archive Your Social Media Memories
Every day, we throw tons of content online, in photos and emails and fleeting thoughts, but we don’t always back it up somewhere else. Part of this is because we trust the cloud as something constant — something too big to fail. After all, it’s not breakable like our laptops and smartphones. You can’t drop Google in the pool by mistake.
It’s probably safe to assume that Twitter won’t disappear tomorrow. But it’s still worth noting which social networking sites have a backup service. Starting with Facebook in 2010 and followed by Google and Twitter in 2011 and 2012, big social networks began including native archive tools that let you download a .zip file of everything you’ve ever posted with the click of a button.
Aside from keeping files for backup, there are plenty of other reasons to download your digital life. For one, it’s handy to have it stored locally, so you can still find a friend’s address even if you’re not online. If you’re angry about Facebook’s mood manipulation experiments, you can give them the finger and delete your profile without losing all your kitty photos. These archives can even give us a glimpse of what we look like to the rest of the Internet: What happens when we remove all the ads and everyone else’s chatter, leaving just our own information?
Google, Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace all have very different takes on what to include and how to present your archive. Here’s a quick overview of how to download them, and the best and worst of what you’ll find inside.
Facebook: Scariest amount of data
Once you’re logged on to your account, find the little down-pointing arrow at the top-right corner and click Settings. On that page (General Account Settings), there’s a single line of text that says Download a copy of your Facebook data. Click that, and hit the Start My Archive button. Eventually, you’ll get an email with a link to a downloadable .zip file.
Inside the .zip file, open “index.htm” to unfold an ad-free, easily navigable version of your profile. Luxurious white space, large photos, and a sans serif font in blues and muted grays make it clean and inviting — basically, what you wish Real Facebook looked like.
You’ll get the stuff you expected: your profile, your statuses, your messages and pokes. All your photos and videos and their associated metadata. All your events and friends, even pending and deleted ones.