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Google searches Twitter archive, eventually giving public access to billions of tweets

April 14, 2010 |  7:49 am

Google is giving netizens access to the vast archive of billions of updates on Twitter, the Internet giant said Wednesday. It made the announcement right before Twitter's inaugural developers' conference Chirp taking place in San Francisco.

Searching for past tweets used to be an exercise in futility. As quickly as they would appear, they would disappear.

Now users can “replay” what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter, tapping into the online conversation about natural disasters, elections or the pop culture obsession at a given moment, said Dylan Casey, Google’s product manager for real-time search. That commentary can provide an important historical perspective into what happened when how people reacted to it, he said.

For example, you can zoom in on a spike in conversation about Golden Gate Park on a sunny Saturday. You can follow the path of healthcare legislation in Congress or the reaction to Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement. Want to find a specific tweet? This tool can help you do that.

The feature will be available around the globe in the next few days. It currently goes back two months but will eventually include every tweet dating back to the first one on March 21, 2006.

Google worked closely with Twitter to launch the new feature, Casey said.

“This is the next step in the product evolution of making this type of content available,” Casey said. “We’re really excited to give users the ability to replay a conversation.”

Searchengineland.com's Danny Sullivan said the product was a much-needed innovation.

“It's been a real issue that people have been unable to locate old tweets,” Sullivan said. “Ironically, Google now has a more comprehensive Twitter search service than Twitter itself. On the other hand, Twitter now has a logo presence in Google's search results, something the company has never, ever offered a partner before, to my knowledge.”

To try it out, click “Show options” on the search results page, then select “Updates.”

-- Jessica Guynn

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