Enlarge / Whatever happens, it’s nice to know your data options.

Benj Edwards

Big changes are conducted on Twitter as we speak – including new leadership— and some people are nervous about what the future of the social network might bring. It may end up being fine in the end, but even in good times, it’s good to know how to get a copy of your Twitter data to keep in place — or, if you prefer, deactivate your Twitter account. This puts the control of your data in your hands.

Before we get started, it’s important to know that the process of getting a copy of your Twitter data can take 24 hours or more. Twitter does this both for security reasons and ostensibly to give its servers time to collect the detailed data it will send you.

Additionally, you’ll need the email address or mobile phone number registered with your Twitter account so that the site can send you a special verification code to complete the process. Once you get the data, you’ll get a local copy of all your tweets, which you can keep indefinitely without having to sign in to Twitter.

How to request your Twitter data on a computer or mobile phone

To obtain a copy of your Twitter data, you must first complete the request process. To get started, sign in to Twitter.com or open the Twitter app using the account you want to request an archive for.

If you’re on the Twitter website, click More in the sidebar, then click Settings & Support. In the Twitter mobile app, just click Settings & Support in the sidebar. When this menu opens, click or tap Settings & Privacy.

Enlarge / Select Settings & Privacy.

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Under Settings, select Your Account, then click or tap Download Archive of Your Data.

Enlarge / Select “Download an archive of your data”.

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After verifying your password, Twitter will send a verification code to either your email address or mobile phone number via text message, depending on what you chose.

Once you’ve received the code, enter it into Twitter and you’ll be taken back to the “Download your data archive” page. Under “Twitter Data”, click the “Request Archive” button.

Enlarge / Click “Request Archive” to submit a request for your data to Twitter.

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Twitter will begin preparing your archive, which may take 24 hours or more.

When the archive is ready, you’ll receive an email notification and/or a pop-up notification in the Twitter app. On the Twitter website or app, go to Settings & Privacy > Your Account > Download Archive of Your Data to download a ZIP file containing your data.

What’s in the Twitter data you get?

After downloading the ZIP file, extract it to a folder on your PC, Mac or Linux. In this folder, you can open “Your Archive.html” in a standard web browser and view your Twitter data locally, which is now located on your computer in this folder.

Once downloaded, you can view your Twitter data locally in your web browser.
Enlarge / Once downloaded, you can view your Twitter data locally in your web browser.

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The Twitter account data you can download comes as a ZIP file that can be viewed in a local web browser on a PC or Mac that includes your Tweets and direct messages, account information and history, and the apps and devices you have used, accounts you’ve used that have been blocked or disabled, and advertising profile information.

A note about direct messages

In our experiments, we noticed that direct messages on Twitter (DM) will stored on Twitter servers until one person in the chat deletes them. So, even if you delete your DM history with a person, the other person you chatted with will still have a copy of your shared DM history. But if both participants in a DM chat delete a direct message conversation, it’s gone from your Twitter archive (and probably from Twitter’s servers) forever. So, if you have private DMs that you want to erase, ask the other party to also delete their DM chat history with you.

How to deactivate your Twitter account

If you’ve already downloaded your Twitter data and feel ready to take the more serious step of deactivating or deleting your account, sign in to Twitter.com or open the Twitter app using the account you want to deactivate. .

Using the sidebar, go to Settings & Privacy > Your Account > Disable Account. On this page, you will see several disclaimers about how deactivation works, but they are unclear about deletion. Twitter consultation support pages shows more detailed information about the process: deactivation can be reversed for up to 30 days. Your Twitter account and all associated data will then be permanently deleted.

When you’re ready, click Disable.

Enlarge / Select “Disable” to disable your Twitter account.

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Even after clicking Disable, you’ll need to enter your Twitter password and go through another confirmation prompt.

Once complete, your Twitter account will be deactivated and your tweets will disappear from the website within a few minutes. If you change your mind, log in again within 30 days and your account will be reactivated. But if you don’t sign in again within 30 days, your account will be permanently deleted.