Social media archiving at The National Archives

We’ve been archiving government Twitter and YouTube content for a number of years, a service we provide through the UK Government Web Archive.

We preserve the social media output of government as it represents an important part of how government communicates online. For the Twitter archive, about 15% of the accounts we’ve archived so far are no longer available on the Twitter service: this means that the web archive is now the only source of this content.

Archived tweets from the Office of Fair Trading

Archived tweets from the Office of Fair Trading

Last year we began working with our new supplier, MirrorWeb. As well as migrating the existing collection, together we have made some big improvements in how we archive the content – including carrying out daily captures to reduce the chance of missing content that is only available for a short time.

We’ve also changed how we present the web archive. The service, relaunched earlier this month, now addresses a number of points raised by our users. They range from performance improvements to displaying enhanced metadata – such as the total number of tweets and videos per account – improving the display of embedded images and videos, incorporating date ranges, and more.

We have also been increasing the number of Twitter and YouTube accounts we’ve been archiving, and the social media archive now contains over 450,000 tweets and over 17,000 videos.

The Strategic Case for HS2: video archived from YouTube

The Strategic Case for HS2: video archived from YouTube

In the future, we plan to include a search tool to improve access to the content; we’ll also explore ways in which we might integrate the social media archive with the rest of the web archive. At the same time, we’re investigating how we can preserve government’s use of other social media services.

Please have a look at the Twitter and Video archives – and please do tell us what you think.


  1. David Matthew says:

    Perhaps The National Archives should be called The National Digital Archive, since it has effectively abandoned the paper record (where are the records?).

    1. Rose says:

      There are no paper records for born digital files like Twitter… You can’t abandon something that doesn’t exist. And printing tweets would be a massive waste of resources.

  2. David Matthew says:

    My comment is that TNA are obsessed with digital records and don’t care about what happens to paper records in general. All archiving of social media of government will do is creating more records of what Government wants you to see.

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