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Public Records…Tools to Archive Twitter and Facebook

I have been a social media/networking advocate for the past year. I have really enjoyed seeing all the ways government has opened up and embraced using social M/N tools to enhance their communications with their constituents. However, many governments are still in the beginning stages of figuring out how to use the tools, create a strategy and how to deal with providing two-way conversation. As I have been out and about doing lectures, webinars, conference speaking and meetings with different managers regarding social M/N, I hear common concerns throughout the conversations. What about public records and how do we manage either requests, and providing the information and achieving?

Well, it is really no different than we have been doing for years. Some of you may have been with government when it first started using E-Mail. People were scared to use it at first. It took a while for all employees to embrace and use as a business tool. Then came the how do we archive and provide public records? Needless to say, we (government) found ways to take care of that. It may not have been right when e-mail was implemented, but eventually we got there.

Now that technology has progressed we are at that cross road again. How do we archive and provide public records for social M/N? Slowly, but surely, it is coming.

One question I am asked a lot is, “so if there are ways to archive, where do we find this information?” So I have provided a list of a few tools that might be helpful. I have tested each one of these and all work very well. I have provided different options, because we all know that the government blocks websites and many agencies do not allow employees to download and install software. If you choose to use any of these, it might be helpful to include the process in your procedures.


TWInbox – Outlook plug-in that works directly within Outlook. By creating folders you can keep a copy of tweets sent and received. This plug-in is free. (You will need install rights to install the plug-in).

TweetTake– offers options for archiving. This is free. (Comment: I have heard many people say they like this option. No software download and can bring the zip file into a spreadsheet program.)

Please note that these are 3rd party tools that require you to put in the Twitter username and password. You may want to change your Twitter password frequently using a strong password.


SocialSafe – Facebook backup – This plug-in is cost $2.99. It will archive the main profile and things associated, not fan pages. (You will need install rights to install on your computer).

Firefox Plugin– Free. Creates a “zip” file. It will archive the main profile and things associated, not fan pages. (You will need install rights to install the plug-in).

Please note that these are 3rd party tools. You may want to change your password frequently using a strong password. Keep in mind with 3rd party tools and services, that you have no control as to when those sites are functioning or not.

There are many PDF tools available, where you can open your page and create a PDF by doing a Print to PDF option. A free PDF maker I use is PDFCreator. Here are a couple more that are also free PDF995 | PrimoPDF (You will need install rights to install the plug-in). (Comment: I do not usually use this method, because it seems like with Facebook pages never really PDF right.)

There are probably many more tools out there. This is just to get you started.

I am also including this link, as an example of Washington Secretary of State’s advice and resources for electronic records.

*Disclaimer: I have worked for government for nearly 20 years; however I am not a public records expert. Please contact your records management or legal office for specific information about your retention schedules and laws.

Hope this is helpful to get you started. Feel free to add what tools or procedures you use to archive your Twitter, Facebook or other Social M/N sites.

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Scott Horvath

This is great information to get people in the right direction April! Records management and social media are certainly a new frontier for everyone, including NARA. I’m sure they’re trying to wrap their heads around it too.

Another good tool for backing up tweets is TweetBackup. You sign in via Twitter OAuth, so there’s no requiring you to enter your credentials. The only thing they require is that you follow them (but there’s really no tweets that come from them so it’s fine). It’ll gather 3200 of your past tweets, and let’s your export them into different formats…very nice. It came in handy recently when I wanted to get the tweets from a tweetchat that are no longer available through the standard Twitter interface. They also have a $1/month premium service that gives you more options like adding as many profiles as you want.

I bet you could also somehow setup a Windows scheduled task from your computer to run every day or once a week to run Adobe Acrobat Pro and have it copy down what the current view of your FB profile is, or some other service. Maybe another application that can be set on a schedule to do a specific action like take a screen shot of an entire page or something.

April E.

Thanks Scott. I use FireShot (free) version for screen shots. Works with both IE and FF. Again, you have to install. I tested TweetBackup and it died on me during the test, so I wasn’t sure about recommending something that hung up on me. Additionally, I had TwitterMail.com on my list, however, the site is completely down. Someone else recommended: http://tweetymail.com. I have not tested. Again, you have to remember that you cannot control is the site is functioning or not.

Dave Haft

Whether you planned to archive or not, ALL twitter posts are stored with pb.ly So no need to worry about archiving, just order a report filled with data from the past.

Anil Chawla

Since this a discussion about tools, I feel obligated to drop ArchiveSocial in the hat 🙂 Disclaimer: I am the founder of the company, but based on reaction from our early users, I think most of you will find ArchiveSocial to be incredibly eye opening in regards to this discussion.

We’ve actually been (quietly) working with a number of agencies in our backyard here in North Carolina, but we are finally launching nationwide this week at NAGW. I hope to see some of you there!