Maintaining Your Digital Presence Is More Than Updating Your Status

Social media, blogs, and websites dominate our lives. A Pew 2014 social media survey found that among American adults 18 and older, 58 percent use Facebook, 23 percent use LinkedIn, and 19 percent use Twitter.

A few years ago I wrote about organizing and maintaining digital images and now seems like a good time to expand on that topic. Do your digital efforts include capturing or archiving your own social media accounts, especially when one considers all the time and effort that can be invested in them?

There are plenty of tools and information available online about social media archiving for businesses, institutions, and government agencies to fulfill legal regulations and recordkeeping requirements. For the individual interested in being digitally responsible and saving their online digital footprint, this information is not always so evident.

While this is not a complete list here are some options:

The "Downloading Your Info" under Facebook creates a ZIP file of your account.

Facebook offers a download feature for users when logged into their personal account. It includes your uploaded videos, photos, posts, and even ads you clicked on. This data can be important if you are a longtime and frequent user of Facebook and use it like a public diary. Old Dominion University also developed a Firefox plugin that also pulls your Facebook data for you.

All your tweets are saved as CSV and JSON formats.

While the Library of Congress is archiving every public tweet from Twitter, account holders can request all their tweets via Twitter settings.  Please note that it might take a few days for the archive to be created. It contains your own tweets and retweets in JSON and CSV formats. It does not include deleted tweets or direct messages. Public tweets dating back to 2006 on Twitter also have been searchable since November 2014

Using Twitter's advanced search, tweets from September 2009-January 2010 of the Smithsonian Institut

In terms of accounts such as Flickr, Instagram and YouTube, it is wise to save a copy of your important images and video to a reliable medium, such as a hard drive that is backed up regularly. Cloud storage is another option.

Websites and blogs can be handled in a few ways. One option is to create a PDF of the site or the pages. Web pages also can be saved to HTML within browsers but this can be time-consuming. Some blog platforms have export options to save to XML. 

The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine regularly captures web pages and makes them available.

If you are not inclined to install a web crawler on your own to capture content, the Internet Archive accepts web pages to be crawled, if allowed by the site, and displays it via its Wayback Machine.  Keep in mind this option does not provide you your own copy on your computer but is a place online that provides a snapshot in time of the site. This is handy when a web page is cited in a publication since the Wayback Machine URI will not change of the capture even if the live page is removed.

Anthologize is a WordPress plugin that allows you to take blog content and compile it as a single volume. It can then be saved as PDF, ePUB, or TEI (an open XML format for storage and exchange). Staff from the Archives was involved in its development as part of the One Week/One Tool project.  

And while we are still in the first month of the new year, consider changing all of your account passwords, if not done regularly. News stories of system hacks are a regular occurrence now. Not only can information be stolen but also deleted or altered. Having your own data in some form could take some of the sting out of an unfortunate incident.

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