How to Backup Your Data on Social Networks

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Posted 4 years ago

How to Backup Your Data on Social NetworksWhen we took photographs with old-style film cameras, those of us of a certain age remember that we had to print out the pictures and save the negatives. We were backing up our precious pics, and as time went by, those pics would be well worn, with Scotch tape attached to them from being put on the wall; to the messages we scribbled on the face of them. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we had those negatives, and we were able to put them away in a place of our own safe keeping? Maybe in the attic? A safety box in a storage institution?

Today, much of our personal and professional data is stored on social network platforms, and on our computers. We have got to back that up too. We live in a world where not only does time never stand still, but neither do we.

Have you ever noticed what seemed trite and trivial yesterday — like a photograph we posted on Facebook yesterday of the sun setting over that gorgeous lake near our vacation spot; will six months later be the talk of the hour as everyone dredges up half-sketched memories of it’s beauty. But where did that confounded picture go? Everybody gets worn out as time elapses and the conversation has entered silent mode as the search continues by one particular computer savvy individual. That exciting person knows the picture can be easily retrieved on the backup drive of her good ol’ Macintosh computer that was flashing it’s static magic in the corner with a cool screensaver of some distant galaxy when she got up and assumed control of said computer.

The excitement was readily restored as the image, lo and behold, pulled up big and tall on the screen.

A collective exclamation came issued by all, (over the photo’s delightfully preserved emergence):




Your Facebook data can be backed up easily.

As the reality of Facebook accounts being hacked, disabled or deleted is not something anyone wants to deal with. Beyond the obvious reasons to back up Facebook data, there is also the legal reasons: In case you are ever involved in a dispute where someone posted something defamatory on your wall and then deleted it, if you made a backup before they removed the post to cover their tracks, then they will only have the ability to delete what is on the live site, and not what you have backed up.

Here’s a quick rundown that will provide you with the ability to securely back up the following:

1. Wall posts and content that has been posted to your profile by you and your friends/colleagues/associates

2. Your profile information

3. Videos and photos that you’ve uploaded to your account

4. Your friend list 

5. Your sent and received messages

6. Notes you have created

7. Events to which you have RSVP’d 

8. Any comments that you and your friends have made on your Wall posts, photos, and other profile content

You login to your Facebook account.

You click the ‘Account’ drop-down menu located in the top right corner of your Facebook page.

Then click on ‘Account Settings’. And from the ‘Settings’ tab, you’ll find what says ‘Download Your Information’ – click the link just to the right of it which says ‘learn more’.

On this page that follows you click the ‘Download’ button. You will then receive a Facebook pop-up message that says that they are ‘gathering’ all your information into a ZIP formatted file for you to download.

The message will let you know that it may take some time; maybe 2-3 hours if you’ve been a regular user for several years. Upon completion of Facebook completing the task you will be sent an e-mail which informs you that the file is ready to be downloaded.

In preparation, beforehand, make sure that you have enough room on your computer’s hard drive to store the data file that you are about to download. Then it is customary for Facebook to have you prove your identity by having you re-input your password and identifying correctly your friend’s pictures. Don’t take Facebook for granted as with anything in life and back up your Facebook account if you haven’t already and do the backup process every few weeks or every few months, and you should be in good stead.


It’s imperative that you realize that there is an important axiom to know; that goes like this – ‘Free services do not make guarantees’. Like Facebook, Linkedin, (and soon I’ll talk about another big social network – Twitter), they are fantastic tools but not fail-proof. There can be server meltdown or hacker attacks, and there are no assurances. The importance of being proactive and preemptive begins with backing up your contacts on Linkedin.

If you’ve uploaded any Outlook contacts file(s) to Linkedin, the following process will be somewhat familiar to you. So, as opposed to importing contacts, we’re going to export contacts.

These contacts get downloaded in the shape of a spreadsheet containing names, e-mails and other details. There are only a few easy steps to outline for exporting your business connection contact information:

1. Log in to Linkedin and display your connections – click ‘Contacts/My Connections’.

2. Where you see ‘Export Contacts’, click that on whereupon your download process begins.

3. You will be asked which format you want to use. VCF and CFV can be used with most applications.

4. You will be asked to fill in a verification text so they know you are a human being.

5. Your contacts should come through on a spreadsheet.

For quite some time now, many Linkedin users with over 5,000 connections have been unable to export their connections data.

Linkedin has so far, to date, not answered numerous user requests with more than a canned response, as to when the normal functionality of the connection export utility will be restored. This failure doesn’t seem to be affecting users with less than 5,000 connections.


Many have built a valuable reputation and spent considerable amounts of time in achieving a good profile on Twitter. You’ll want to back up your data.

What about something on Twitter as simple as referring back to an older Tweet that no longer exists on the Twitter network? The publicized recent Twitter Phishing attacks have borne out the need for those accounts that were hacked to prove that it was theirs initially. By backing up your Twitter you will have all the details of the people you followed and it will be much easier to quickly rebuild a new account.

There are, for those not wanting to use a third party, a few desktop tools to accomplish backing up Twitter account data:

Twitter Backup

Download ‘Twitter Backup’. You will be asked to enter your Twitter username and password, (login details going directly and only to Twitter) and the name of the file that you want to create. The software is going to request twenty tweets from your account every minute. It may obviously take a while if you have a huge amount of tweets.

Twitter backup java application

The ‘Twitter backup java application’ allows you to backup every single aspect of the entirety of your Twitter account. This includes friends, followers, tweets, direct messages, @ messages, favorites, etc.

RSS feed: ‘RSS feed’ for your twitter is a good option as so many are already using it for other things. It is one of the simplest techniques, also. And you automatically back up your own tweets: Search for your @username using, then subscribe to your Twitter RSS feed. This will pull all of your tweets, past-present-future to your feed reader where you can archive your data.


An important lesson can be found in researching the upcoming closure of the social media platform Posterous. Posterous recently sounded a clarion call for people who keep a lot of data on social media platforms (pictures, updates, etc.) that even longtime social media platforms can go away. Posterous users got an email with instructions on how to get a copy of their data that resides on Posterous before it no longer could be accessible.

And, lest I forget, the topic of backing up your Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter (and other social media accounts) is of great interest to lawyers. Lawyers are called upon to help their clients when questions about obtaining social media account information arises in legal matters. And accountability is second to organization in running a smooth operation.


The ever-burgeoning presence and reliance on ‘clouds’ and debates about issues of ‘backing up’ versus ‘archiving’ is making for heady debates and lengthy articles in computer circles; and that is the current horizon. So, with that in mind, have your data backed up. As a popular singer cooed — because ‘every day is a winding road’.

– Rich Casale

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