Talking tech since 2003

“Eating lunch.” This was the first tweet I ever sent, and it happened back on July 25, 2007. Between then and now, I’ve tweeted 27,012 more times, although Twitter only allows me to access the last 3,200 or so. While the first could have been better in hindsight, there is still a lot of personal history stored up in all of those 140-character-or-less updates. Unfortunately, I — along with millions of other Twitter users — haven’t had a way to check them out. It’s been like a sort of Twitter amnesia, where a large chunk of our memories have gone missing.

That begins to change today, as Twitter has officially started the roll-out of what it calls “Your Twitter Archive;” a feature that allows you to download every single one of the tweets (and retweets) you sent out on the service, starting with the very first.

This is welcome news, indeed, as this feature is one many Twitter users have wanted for a very long time. In a day and age where users of Web services are being herded into walled gardens more often than not, data portability is a very big deal. Being able to download your Twitter archive ensures that you can keep all of the content you’ve created on Twitter, even if you decide to deactivate your account someday. It’s also a bright spot for Twitter, as the company made a promise long ago to offer downloadable archives; today’s roll-out is a promise kept to its users.

To download your Twitter archive with the new feature, you’ll need to sign in to your Twitter account and head over to the Settings page. From there, you’ll click the “Request your archive button.” This prompts Twitter to begin assembling your past tweets into a nice downloadable package. A download link will be emailed to you when that process is complete.

If you’ve excitedly logged in to your Twitter account and opened the Settings page to give the new feature a try, you’ve likely run into some disappointment. Twitter made it a point to mention that the ability to download archives is “slowly” rolling out; at this point, only a small percentage of English-speaking users have access to it. Twitter promises that the feature will roll out to everyone over the “coming weeks and months.” This is hardly a specific timetable, but at this point, some might just be happy knowing the feature is coming at all.

I don’t currently have access to it, but I’ll be checking daily so that when the feature does become available, I can give you a first impression on the process. Do you currently have access to the new feature? We’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

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