Twitter tests machine-readable tweet archive download feature

The data portability feature, not available to everyone just yet, makes it easy to read full histories of public tweets. It should also make it possible for tweet archives to be ingested by other apps.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Twitter has reportedly started letting its users download their entire public tweet histories.

The feature has not rolled out to everyone yet, and reports have suggested that the deployment is in a test phase with a limited set of users. It appears that the download presents the archive in HTML, with data and metadata stored in JSON and CSV files.

Users can find out whether the feature is available to them by checking the settings page and looking for a link reading 'request your archive'. Clicking the link tells Twitter to collate the archive, and the user then gets an email link letting them download the result.

Reports suggest that direct messages and following information are not included.

The way in which Twitter is presenting the information makes it possible for other apps to read it. As a result, the archive-download feature is a useful example in data portability. Facebook does the same to some extent, although some privacy activists insist that the social network holds a lot more data on its users that it won't give up so easily.

Europe's competition chief, Joaquin Almunia, recently warned that technology companies holding large amounts of personal data must let their customers take that data with them, if they choose to switch to a rival service.

Almunia noted that data portability has not previously shown up as an antitrust issue in the EU, but added that it may possibly do so in future.

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