Twitter is celebrating its eighth anniversary by allowing everyone to view their first Twitter postings. You can find out what anybody on Twitter first posted. Want to know how your heroes got started on Twitter? Here's how to find out. We'll also show you how you can read your old Tweets by month, or search your archive to find Tweets with certain words, phrases, hashtags or @usernames.
We also tell you why you should know what you posted long ago on Twitter. (Read all of our Twitter, Facebook and YouTube tutorials.)
How to find your first Tweet
This bit is easy. Using the web browser with which you are logged in to your Twitter account, just visit this link:
You will see your first Tweet (in my case, a rather boring - if worthy - entreaty to follow @pcadvisor). For more exciting updates check out @mattjegan. (See also: How to report spam and other violations on Twitter.)
How to find anyone's first Tweet
Visit the same link, and input their username. Here's PC Advisor's first Tweet:
We know how to live. (You might also want to read: 7 quick tips for holding a successful Twitter chat., and our beginner's guide to Twitter.)
How to access old Tweets
Now let's move on to how to access old Tweets, and how to back up and archive your Twitter postings.
I am addicted to Twitter. I love it. It's a great way of keeping up with what's happening - albeit through the filter of the people and things you like (follow a general election via Twitter and you'll be convinced your side is going to win: you don't tend to follow those with whom you disagree). Twitter is also a brilliant way of communicating in real time to the whole world. As a consequence it can feel transient, ephemeral. But it really isn't: what feels like conversation is actually publishing. When you post to Twitter you are making a small blog post, and that means in the UK you are legally liable for what you said for a year after the day you delete that post. And that's if no-one else re-Tweets or republishes them - you are responsible for your words wherever they appear. So what you post matters.
But Twitter isn't like other blogs, in that only your past 3,000 or so Tweets remain live at any one time. The rest are archived - so if you have posted something likely to get you into legal hot water, you can either delete it or post 3,000 times more (delete it, dummy).
Why you might want to access old Tweets
Recently a solicitor friend of mine got in touch. He asked: "Is there any way I can search for old tweets? I have seen some websites that say they can search for them, but the search function doesn't give me what I know is there.
"I know the user I want to search and the date range - it goes back to June 2011."
In this scenario, he cannot access those Tweets - good news for the loose-lipped Tweeter who has been trolling my friend's client. But if you were on the other side of that scenario, it might be important to find and retain your old Tweets, so you can prove what you did and did not say. It's also fun: my best material goes on to Twitter. I put a lot of effort into the first 12,000 Tweets I posted, and I want to be able to peruse them over a glass of wine or seven.
So, here's how you can read all of those old Twitter postings. (You might also want to read: 7 quick tips for holding a successful Twitter chat., and our beginner's guide to Twitter.)
How to access your old Tweets
You can download your Twitter archive. Twitter helpfully explains all in this blog posting. I will even more helpfully explain it all for you (just remember you heard it here first). Click on the images to make them larger.
Access old Tweets step 1. Log in to Twitter. Click the cog in the top righthand corner and go to Settings in the drop-down (as pictured above).
Access old Tweets step 2. At the bottom you'll find an option to request your Twitter archive. Click the button... and that's it, pretty much.
Access old Tweets step 3. You'll receive a message telling you to expect an email. In our case the email arrived in minutes.
Access old Tweets step 4. Within that email is a link, click the link and you go to a page with a download button. Hit that and you download your old Tweets as a zip file.
You can now view your Tweets by month, or search your archive to find Tweets with certain words, phrases, hashtags or @usernames. You can even engage with your old Tweets just as you would with current ones via a HTML interface, or look at them on a spreadsheet as a CSV.
Have fun with your old Tweets. And don't forget to follow me at @MattJEgan. It turns out I got better as I went along. (You might also want to read: 7 quick tips for holding a successful Twitter chat., and our beginner's guide to Twitter.)