• Downloading your old Twitter faves, setting up IFTTT to capture new ones

Table of Contents

  1. Capturing old favourites
  2. Capturing new favourites ‘going forwards’
  3. Useful background info

1. Capturing old favourites
To download your already-liked favourites do the following

  1. Log into Twitter
  2. Go to tweetbook.in and authorise it to access your account
  3. Select a time range, choose Favorites and create your PDF e-book of your favourited tweets

If you have as many favourites as I have (3,502 over 7 years, oops) you probably won’t be able to get them all in one go (2012 alone yielded a 134 page PDF!) but you have the option of trying to grab them all at once.

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Fig 1. Authorise Tweetbook.in with Twitter

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Fig 2. Pick a date range… or leave blank to pick all (it may fail if you have lots)

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Fig 3. Once your tweetbook is ready the green ‘Download’ button will appear

The output
Each page of the PDF has only a handful of tweets on it (it’s not very efficient) but the timestamp is hyperlinked so you can search for a tweet (Ctrl+F or Command+F to search within any document) and then find the original on Twitter.

Caution: I don’t know if it will display only public tweets that you’ve followed or, because you’ve logged in, if it can pick up any tweets from locked (private) accounts that you follow. Be aware that if you publishly share the contents you might be sharing tweets that people want kept private.

2. Capturing new favourites ‘going forwards’
You can use an IFTTT recipe so that every time you click favourite / like on a tweet it will be saved in some way of your choosing – for example you might use a Google spreadsheet to capture the tweet, or email it to yourself.

To do this… do this

  1. Log in to Twitter and Google Drive / Gmail*
  2. Visit IFTTT and create an account.
  3. This is an example of a recipe you can use:
    Twitter Likes (Favorites) to Google Spreadsheet (other recipe options available*)
  4. You’ll be taken through the steps of connecting your Google Drive as one ‘channel’ and your Twitter  account as another channel – this allows your Twitter account to save your favourites to a Google Drive spreadsheet directly (you don’t need to set that up, it happens automatically).
  5. Favourite a tweet then go and visit your Google Drive and you’ll find a new spreadsheet created with your favourite in. After 1,000 tweets the system will create a fresh spreadsheet (same name with ‘1’ appended, and so on).

*or Evernote, or some other capturing system, examples here and here

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3. Useful background info
Favouriting a tweet does not trap it permanently – if the original is deleted then you do not have a copy of it so ‘post-favouriting-processing’ would be necessary to capture it.

Other ways to capture a tweet include

  • taking a screenshot (it can be helpful to include its address / URL)
  • embedding it in a blog or Storify (in both cases subsequent deletion of the original won’t matter as your copy will remain)
  • use Freezepage to capture a copy of the ‘page’ on which the tweet appears (you need to use the tweet’s own address – you can find this in its timestamp – and remove the S from the httpS bit of the address

I’ve written a short post on ‘forensic’ use of Twitter (where you’re collecting someone’s tweets for legal reasons) but note that I’m not a lawyer so bear that in mind.

Further reading
Capturing web pages (remember a tweet IS a web page as it has its own address!) – Nightingale Collaboration

 

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Taking a screenshot

This was originally posted on my main blog ‘How to take screenshots‘ which I’ve copied here and edited slightly.

How to take screenshots
On desktop computers you may want to INCLUDE the tweet’s URL (in the address bar) but NOT display your bookmarks too. If so you can use the VIEW option in the browser to temporarily hide the bookmarks toolbar (and any other toolbars) to neaten the captured image. You can also resize the entire window and use the Ctrl+- (the Ctrl or Command* key plus the hyphen key) to reduce the size of the text on the screen. Ctrl++ (Ctrl / Command and the + key) to embiggen it again 🙂

*Command = for Mac keyboards

To take a screenshot on a Windows desktop PC or laptop
• Look for ‘Print Screen’ on the keyboard which is likely to be spelled Prt Scr.
• Press it to take a picture of the entire screen or press the Alt key first and then Prt Scr to take a snapshot of just the active window.
• This silently copies an image of the screen, or part of it, to the clipboard (it doesn’t send it to the printer)

I always use the free Paint / Paintbrush picture editing tool that’s bundled with Windows and the ‘how to use’ that is probably the subject of a different post but – briefly – Ctrl+V will transfer the copied image from the desktop and paste it into the Paint editing window, then click on any of the tool options then click on the selection tool.

To select the bit you want to keep start at one bit (eg top left) and click and drag to cover the area of interest. Press Ctrl+C to copy that (it’s now in the clipboard) and you can put that in a Word document or email, or save it as an image by opening a new Paint document (Ctrl+N) and then Ctrl+V to paste your clipping in and then save it.

To take a screenshot on a Mac laptop

Note that ‘Command’ = the ⌘ key
Command+Shift+3     Capture the entire screen to a file
Command+Shift+Control+3     Capture the screen to the Clipboard
Command+Shift+4     Capture a selection to a file
Command+Shift+Control+4     Capture a selection to the Clipboard
Source: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1343

You can use the Preview tool (free with Macs) to do some basic editing of the image.

To take a screenshot on an iPhone
Press the on/off button (at the top right) and the ‘home screen’ button at the bottom. This will copy whatever’s on your screen to your camera roll which you can then email to yourself (private) or upload to image sharing services (public).

To take a screenshot on an Android phone (v4.0 and above)
Press and hold the power and ‘volume down’ buttons simultaneously – h/t @ErisianLib
More at http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/google-android/3446798/how-take-screenshot-on-android-phones-tablets/

To take a screenshot on a Samsung S3 Mini
Press and hold the ‘home’ and ‘on/off’ (power) button simultaneously – thanks to @Jackpot73 for the info. 

To take a screenshot on a Windows 8.1 phone
Press ‘power button’ and ‘volume increase/up’ at the same time – info from @Flatsquid, thank you

To take a screenshot on a Sony phone
It’s power and volume down simultaneously, according to @clangyandjammy – thanks

• “Forensic” Twitter

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice (I am not qualified to give it). Be very careful about relying on this information – if I am wrong my advice might damage your case! – and always seek appropriate legal advice if you need it. Different localities will have their own laws and application of those laws. [Page updated 11 March 2017]

See further reading at end.

This post is written for people who need to keep an eye on a particular set of tweets, or information on a website. An example might be where someone says something (on Twitter) that crosses a line and may result in intervention from police, statutory bodies or some other legal body, and a case may even end up in court based on what was said on Twitter. I have no idea what type of evidence would be required to satisfy a court but here are some suggestions for capturing tweets as evidence, and their limitations.

If you’ve been blocked you can still view and save tweets by logging out, using a third party app (like Echofon for iPhone or Dabr for desktop) or creating a spare account.

Table of Contents
1. Capturing the tweets while they’re still available
• 1a. Screen capture / screenshot
• 1b. Freezepage
• 1c. Storify or embedding in a blog
• 1d. IFTTT – capturing the tweets as they’re sent
2. Capturing deleted tweets
3. What software did they use to tweet?
4. Detect changes on a website, or new information being published
5. How many followers did X have at point Y?
6. Further reading

1. Capturing the tweets while they’re still available
1a. Screen capture / screenshot

Have the tweet visible on the screen and take a screenshot. Methods for doing this depend on the device but see [Taking a screenshot] for some suggestions.

For a better picture use desktop Twitter (and include the https:// link that’s visible in the address bar). Most Twitter platforms, including desktop, will also show you who has favourited or RTed the tweet (which may be useful evidence in itself of the spread of the tweet) but you may need to note the accounts that have done this as it’s not necessarily obvious from the pictures (and they may subsequently change their picture). You can also capture some of the replies too.

Note that more people might reply to the tweet later (or favourite it, or RT it) so this process may need to be repeated periodically.

Advantages: captures the tweet as it is, even if later deleted
Limitations: because an image can be altered it may not be deemed strong enough evidence. However I think it would be a ‘not unreasonable supposition’ to believe that someone stating under oath that it is true might satisfy the courts, though see tweet below. You might be lucky and find that others have created a corroborating screenshot or other way of verifying the tweet too.

1b. Freezepage
To capture a copy of the ‘page’ on which the tweet appears (you need to use the tweet’s own address – you can find its URL in the tweet’s timestamp. Make sure you remove the S from the httpS bit of the address [update 22 March – removing the S from https:// to make it http:// may no longer be necessary, but if it gives an error message try that first]. You can create an account, or not http://www.freezepage.com/

1c. Storify or embedding in a blog
A tweet, once embedded in a Storify story or blog, will remain visible there even once deleted. It will look slightly different (you won’t be able to favourite it or RT it) but it will remain there otherwise exactly as it was.

Storify embeds: Search for the name of the person, or words in the tweet, or if you have its address use the link search to pin it down and save it in your Storify. See [How to use Storify like a pro to collect tweets] for more info.

Blog embeds: Either use the embed tweet option (previously found in the three … dots but this has been replaced with a down arrow to the right of the tweet) or, for WordPress dot com blogs (as this one) you can just use the tweet’s address and it will autoembed.

1d. IFTTT – capturing the tweets as they’re sent
The free online tool IFTTT (If This, Then That) lets you capture a copy of a ‘corpus’ (“bunch”) of tweets eg all from a particular user or all containing a hashtag. You can have them emailed to you, or you can set up a spare Twitter account to rebroadcast them, or you can have them collected in a Google Drive spreadsheet or Evernote file. I’ve not written a blog post specifically about this but the information can be gleaned from the second part of [Downloading your old Twitter faves, setting up IFTTT to capture new ones] and another post that might be useful on how to use IFTTT is [How to display Instagram pictures correctly in tweets using IFTTT].

With IFTTT you authorise it to access your own Twitter account (to let it interact with Twitter) then set up a ‘collection bin’ into which you’ll put the tweets, so you can authorise it to use Google Drive or something else. IFTTT calls the different services channels and the instructions to “if a tweet contains X send an email to Y” a recipe.

2. Capturing deleted tweets
While deleting a tweet removes it from Twitter’s public servers it is still potentially findable. If you are looking for it a short while after its deletion (I’m not sure exactly how long but it’s a matter of hours and no guarantees) you may find it via Google’s cache (see tiny green arrow in picture below, flanked by orange arrows, that is the link to find a cached copy, if available). Note that tweets that have previously been embedded in a blog post or used in a Storify story will still remain even after the tweet is deleted. Other search engines have caches too and you can see an example here http://cachedview.com/

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Other things to try if you can’t find the tweet(s) are to see if others have retweeted the text of the tweet(s) [search for words in the tweet] or a screenshot [in which case they may have included the original @handle of the person who deleted the tweet so try searching for to:handle].

I think if you’re the sort of person who knows what an API is then you might be able to do something on that front but alas this exceeds my knowledge.

3. What software did they use to tweet?
All tweets used to have a line at the bottom of them saying what software had been used to send the tweet but Twitter no longer adds this in, however many third party apps do. Echofon for iPhone will tell you how a tweet was sent. Because Echofon is used on a mobile device it’s reasonable to assume that if that was used to send the tweet the person was using a phone. If it says something like ‘Twitter for web’ then they may have tweeted from a desktop computer.

Limitations: On an iPhone it’s possible to download the Chrome browser and use Twitter’s desktop version. Tweets sent in this way will appear as ‘from desktop’ yet will have been sent by mobile phone.

4. Detect changes on a website, or new information being published
Use the change detection service and get it to send you an email if the text on a website is amended https://www.changedetection.com/, or you can set up a Google Alert to email you if a particular word or phrase appears in a newly published page on the internet https://www.google.com/alerts

5. How many followers did X have at point Y?
One of the considerations in the recent Monroe v Hopkins Twitter libel case considered how many followers the parties had at the time the relevant tweets were made. This was estimated but in some cases you’d be able to find the exact number thanks to the Internet Archive. Whether or not someone’s Twitter account has been archived will probably be fairly random (and presumably new accounts won’t be included – though you can of course manually add their page to the archive, or use Freezepage as mentioned above) – I was quite pleased to find that my page has been archived. The Internet Archive takes snapshots at particular time points, often several months apart – it’s pot luck what’s there.

The Internet Archive has taken several snapshots of my Twitter account and one, made at 14:52 on 14 Feb 2010 showed that I had 820 followers, by 3 August 2014 this had increased to 3,631. My account has had 44 snapshots taken between 23 Dec 2008 and 9 Jan 2017. Use the format https://twitter.com/USERNAME and insert it here to test an account’s history.

6. Further reading