It’s months before Facebook’s IPO, but you can protect the investment you’ve made in the social network now. Startup SocialSafe is building itself to be the all-in-one tool you need to backup your data from the social media sites you’ve joined. Currently the Adobe AIR based program allows you to download and store information on your computer for Facebook and Twitter, but they are planning to add LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, and many more. Allowing users more command over their online data has a strong appeal, and while still young, SocialSafe is already protecting 33 million items for their costumers. Why trust the cloud when you can backup your data and be certain it’s safe? Watch their sales pitch and a brief introduction in the videos below. We’ve been told repeatedly that in the social network, we are the product. Is the ability to download and protect our data a step towards leveraging those goods for our own gain, or is it just a bit of swag compared to the real metadata we’ll never get to grab?
A quick pitch from SocialSafe, that I’m sure will strike a chord with every Facebook addict out there:
For those interested a bit more in the mechanics, here’s an older video showing some of SocialSafe’s basic features,
While SocialSafe’s preservation of your part of the social network isn’t complete yet, the list of what it can save is pretty extensive. In Facebook you’ll be able to download and store: photo albums, friends, status updates, your profile, wall posts*, and tagged photos*. For Twitter* you’ll be locking away tweets, direct messages, mentions, followers, following, and your bio. While you have an unlimited number of tweets you can save, SocialSafe only seems to be able to dig 3200 back into your history. The lesson here is to start backing up as soon as possible, I guess.
By the way, those asterisks are there because there’s both a free and Pro* version of SocialSafe. While the price of the full program is relatively moderate (just $7 at last glance), it’s a little disappointing that so much of the potential is behind a paywall. Still, every programmer has to eat, so I shouldn’t begrudge them their price.
Considering how extensive and redundant cloud-architecture has become, it seems unlikely that your Facebook and Twitter data will be expunged forever. Oh sure, you can lose access to an account due to hacking, or other form of deliberate malfeasance, or just plain carelessness on your part, but I’m not sure those instances are enough to sustain this preservation-based branch of the industry. I guess social networks can freely rearrange their layouts, making once easy to find information harder to access. Or perhaps they’ll simply delete old information years after it is collected. In any case, while I think SocialSafe is partly for those whose paranoia extends to the cloud, it’s probably more for the average user wishing to have greater access and flexibility with the data they spend hours and hours of their lives crafting.
Apparently ownership of your online activity is a popular concept, as SocialSafe is far from the first company looking to allow you to download your social network. Givememydata and Backupmytweets are among the many sites and apps looking to help you save your efforts on Facebook and Twitter. While few seem to have branched into multiple arenas like SocialSafe, choosing between these competitors probably won’t give you drastically different capabilities. I’d go with the interface you like best as the actual data storage and retrieval are straightforward, and fairly similar across brands. No one seems currently able to restore data you’ve backed up (though Social Safe says they’re working on it), which sort of lends credence to my theory that these types of programs are less about actually dealing with the loss of an account, and more about a feeling of control over your data.
The ecosystem of the social network is slowly changing, and we’re seeing a few concepts gain strength that may rebalance the scales of the internet. Along with backup programs like SocialSafe, we’ve also seen social search software like Greplin. Now you can not only get your personal data, you can look through it easily. As these technologies mature, users everywhere will not only be able to rightfully claim the content they generate, they will be able to move it easily from format to format as they see fit. While this isn’t exactly the same as owning the metadata that constitutes the real profit-making part of social networking, it is a big step in the right direction. If we are the product, we might as well have as much control over ourselves as possible.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some truly epic Facebook debates to backup. There’s no way I’m losing that fifty-four day discussion on which Fraggle represented which school of philosophy. I’m telling you, Boober is a mouthpiece for nihilism…
[image and video credits: SocialSafe]