Twitter Archiving in the Musk Era
In the wake of his purchase, far-right billionaire Elon Musk has made many awful changes at Twitter. Kneecapping capabilities for viewing, researching, and archiving materials posted on the forum is certainly less immediately harmful than, say, stochastic terrorism against schools & childrens' hospitals, but it's still no good, and requires some stopgaps.
Twitter frequently now seems to block archive.org altogether; and even when it is possible to archive a tweet by other means, it is generally only viewable as a single post, devoid of any surrounding context in the form of threads or replies.
The steps I've found useful are as follow:
- For example, let's say I need to preserve this post along with some of its immediate context:
- I replace the url's “twitter” domain with “twiiit” – e.g.
- Before I hit “enter”, I COPY that modified URL. This is because Nitter instances themselves are regularly being blocked by Twitter, or are otherwise unable to dredge up a copy of the post. The “twiiit” re-direct will try various Nitter instances, though; so if the first couple don't function, I simply paste the URL and try again. It only saves a couple of seconds, but they can add up.
- I find myself redirected to a functional Nitter front-end of the tweet, which includes replies and context, in this case it's this one:
- I create an archive of that Nitter front-end by using archive.org and/or archive.today.
If I'm trying to preserve a longer thread, I will sometimes archive every fourth or fifth post to ensure that the data is complete via overlapping captures.
As Musk continues to use his fortune in an apparent quest to singlehandedly reinvigorate the embers of the alt-right, it'll remain important to be able to document & preserve some of what is posted on his platform — this will likely require a continual stream of kludgy workarounds by diligent researchers who are much more clever than I am. So, thanks in advance.
P.S. – Nitter instances render timestamps as UTC, which is generally more reliable than the local timestamp which appears when I view the original tweet from the US West coast.