Every day we send all kinds of messages for the world to see on social media. These posts have become an integral part of our lives, and social media can be an important research tool, partly because it provides a platform for such a wide range of societal issues. But this content is very fleeting and rarely archived.

The project Best practices for archiving social media in Flanders and Brussels, run by KADOC, for which meemoo is the main partner, is developing workflows and manuals to capture this valuable online information. They are now available on CEST.

Archiving social media is a complex matter. The code used by the platforms often changes, the websites are very dynamic, and you need to log in to view all the available content. All this makes social media platforms much harder to archive than static websites.

New workflows and manuals on CEST

Screenshot of the archiving of the meemoo Facebook page

At the start of 2021, we put a number of free open source tools to the test: we looked at how workable they are for archiving Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter accounts. We also used export features from the social media platforms themselves. We then chose the tools with the best results and formulated possible approaches for further testing. In phase two of the project, we will investigate the use of paid tools.

The approaches we adopted are now available online in the form of workflows and manuals. Archive institutions can use our workflows to archive accounts for their own collections. We have also developed manuals with a view to helping archive creators archive their own social media profiles. They help account owners archive their own content.

Pilot projects

Several pilot projects are starting in March 2021. The content partners in this project will use our workflows and manuals to archive their accounts with our help. They will also evaluate these workflows and manuals, and a meemoo trainee will test the different workflows on the old PACKED Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Partners

KADOC is the project proposer and coordinator.

Other partners are Amsab (Institute for Social History), ADVN (Archive for National Movements), VAi (Flanders Architecture Institute), CKV (Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp), CAVA (Centre for Academic and Liberal Archives), AMVB (Archive and Museum for the Flemish Living in Brussels), Liberas, Letterenhuis and IMS (Institute for Media Studies KULeuven).

Do you have a question?
Contact Nastasia Vanderperren
Expertise Officer