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How to create (and destroy) your own Twitter archive

EDIT (10/01/15): This has been since replaced by a new version of twttr_autodestructor.


I wrote a handy bash script that creates an archive of all the tweets posted then deletes them from Twitter’s servers. I run it with cron on a weekly basis.


  1. Install t, an awkwardly named command-line tool for Twitter.
  2. Add something like the following to your crontab if you planning on running it on a schedule:

     # Run ``at 11:45 every Sunday
     45 23 * * 0 source /home/kanye/


Set the BOX_USER, TWITTER_USER and BACKUP_FOLDER variables (and don’t forget to create the path to the BACKUP_FOLDER eg. mkdir /home/kanye/archive_kanyewest).


# For all your automatic Tweet backup and destruction needs

# Variables

# The user you're running the script as eg. `kanye`
# The Twitter account you want to backup eg. `hello_ebooks`
FILE=${TWITTER_USER}_$(date +%d%m%y).csv

# Make workspace directory
mkdir /tmp/twttr_autodestructor && cd /tmp/twttr_autodestructor

# Create archive file
/usr/local/bin/t timeline @${TWITTER_USER} --csv --number 1000 --decode-uris > ${FILE}

# If the file has contents (twttr updates to backup)
if [ -s ${FILE} ] ; then

  # Copy archive
  cp ${FILE} /home/${BOX_USER}/archive_${TWITTER_USER}/.

  # Remove columns headers		
  sed -i '1d' ${FILE}

  # Get IDs only
  awk -F"," '{print $1}' ${FILE} > delete_me_column

  # Put the IDs on one line for t
  sed ':a;N;$!ba;s/\n/ /g' delete_me_column > delete_me_row

  # Delete!
  /usr/local/bin/t delete status -f `cat delete_me_row`
  # Send an email saying there were no twttr updates to backup
  echo "${FILE} is empty" | mail -s "${FILE} is empty" ${BOX_USER}@localhost
fi ;

# Delete workspace directory
cd ~ && rm -rf /tmp/twttr_autodestructor


I intend to throw my updates into GitHub, who do some nice formatting with .csv files.