Backup Your Social Media Content Because Even Big Sites Close Down

BlogHer Original Post

Posterous is closing on April 30th.  I wasn't the biggest Posterous user -- the last time I used it was while at the BlogHer conference last summer -- though I was a daily Posterous consumer.  I learned about the demise of Posterous from Flamingo House Happenings and then quickly Googled to confirm its fate.  CNet provided an obit: "Posterous, soon to be long forgotten."

Ouch.

R.I.P.

Image: RIP via Shutterstock

I liked Posterous.  I liked how easy it was to upload photos and video on the go.  I'll miss it, even though there are other sites I can switch to that will give me the same abilities as Posterous.  But I sort of look at it in the same way I look at my favourite jeans: yes, other companies make jeans, but I like my jeans.  They fit my body well, and they don't cost too much.  And Posterous was a site that fit my needs and didn't cost a lot when it came to their Terms of Service claiming rights to my content.

Sites come and go; they're sort of like friendships in that way.  There are the ones that are such an enormous part of our lives that we can't imagine waking up one day and not having them there.  There are others that we like well enough, or they fit us during a certain point in our life, but later on, we realize that we haven't visited them in months and we really don't miss them either, even though there are no hard feelings.  Sometimes the user needs the site and lives in fear of it disappearing.  Other times, the feelings aren't quite mutual and while the site wants us to stick around, we really don't want to invest our energy in that relationship anymore.

We need sites.  But they also need us.

There is nothing that is too big to fail.  Sites go in and out of vogue all the time.  Remember Friendster? (As well as the fabulous Onion spoof: "Researchers conducting the Friendster excavation say the site has been deserted since the year 2005 A.D.")  Remember MySpace?  While MySpace is still breathing, Wikipedia gives a stark look at its rise and fall:

From 2005 until early 2008, Myspace was the most visited social networking site in the world, and in June 2006 surpassed Google as the most visited website in the United States. In April 2008, Myspace was overtaken by Facebook in the number of unique worldwide visitors, and was surpassed in the number of unique U.S. visitors in May 2009, though Myspace generated $800 million during the 2008 fiscal year. Since then, the number of Myspace users has declined steadily in spite of several redesigns. As of February 2013, Myspace was ranked 220 by total web traffic, and 133 in the United States.

It doesn't matter if Mark Zuckerberg makes us the promise that Facebook is here forever.  It doesn't matter if we get an iron-clad contract with Twitter promising it will still be there in the morning.  Social media only works if people show up to use it, and if Facebook users dump it as they did MySpace, it won't really matter if it's still standing if there is no one you want to socialize with to use it with you.  It's like being the only person who shows up for a party.  Not much fun.

Protect Your Content

Every once in a while, I go through and download all my content from any site I don't own but care about, similar to how I backup my self-hosted blog. 

  • I downloaded all my content from Posterous by using their yellow backup button at the top of the account page.  
  • I download all my Tweets (all you have to do is go under settings, scroll to the bottom, and click "request your archive") and my Facebook content (go under settings, stay on the general page, and look at the bottom which has a link to "download a copy").  
  • I cut-and-paste the content and pictures off of Blogger or Wordpress blogs.  
  • I bookmark the original posts on my computer for anything I care about from Pinterest and StumbleUpon.  

I live my online life as if these sites (and my accounts on them) will all still be there in the morning.  But I know that accounts get accidentally deleted or hacked.  We drift away from some, forgetting we ever uploaded content that we'd want to see again.  Or we wake up one morning to discover that a site we cared about has decided to shut down.  Social media sites, like friendships, come and go.

Which sites would you be upset about if they closed up shop like Posterous?  What old sites do you miss that are no longer around or are no longer being actively used?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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