This is a sequel to the earlier article on how to find deleted or lost digital information for investigations using the Wayback Machine.
In this article, we’ll focus on how to archive a link including social media posts to prevent link rot.
We’ll use three tools for the demonstration; the Wayback Machine, Archive.Today, and Perma.cc.
Oftentimes as a fact-checker, you collect website links that are of importance to your investigation and use them directly as references or backlinks in your reports but there are some dangers in that.
Why is archiving important?
In the event of link rot, like the author deleting their post or taking down their web post later, your readers may get errors when they try to access the links you referenced.
If the link is a subject of contention or forms the crux of your report, then the credibility of your work may be called into question.
Archiving these links is a way to prevent such a situation.
Archiving can be likened to running a ‘photocopy’ of the link such that the new copy is unalterable by the author or you as a fact-checker.
There are many tools for archiving web links but three will be highlighted in this article.
Application of archiving tools
The post below was made in March 2021 and will be used for demonstration.
If it is referenced in a fact-checking report as the crux of the report or an important piece of evidence as part of the report, what do we do?
1. We need to copy the post’s URL. In this case: https://twitter.com/jnyabor/status/1367747597922885632
2. Navigate to the Wayback Machine website, which is web.archive.org.
3. Paste the link under the ‘Save Page Now’ section.
4. Select ‘Save Page’
You don’t need to create an account to use this service but it is helpful if you do and actually log in as doing this offers more options for archiving the link.
After a few seconds, your link is successfully archived and you’ll be furnished with a new link that is unalterable.
In this case, the link is: https://web.archive.org/web/20220822044253/https://twitter.com/jnyabor/status/1367747597922885632
Even if the author deletes or edits the post later, this copy remains intact.
NB: Signing in enables you to find and track all links you’ve archived in the past.
Archive.Today, like the Wayback Machine, offers archiving service for free on its basic web interface.
1. Visit the website; Archive.fo
2. Copy and paste the URL you want to archive under the ‘My URL is alive and I want to archive its content’ section.
3. Click ‘Save’
Allow a few seconds for the request to be processed.
In under a minute the process should be completed.
4. Click on ‘Share’ to access the new unalterable link.
You can copy and use either the short link or the long link.
For this demonstration, the new link generated is: http://archive.today/BGHIG
Unlike the Wayback Machine and Archive.Today, you need to sign up and sign in to use Perma.cc’s archiving service.
1. Log in on Perma.cc
2. Click on ‘Create and manage Perma links’
3. Copy and paste the link you want to archive.
4. After a few seconds the link will be archived and a new unalterable URL will be provided.
An advantage of using Perma.cc’s service is that you are able to manage your previous archived links. The downside is that there is a 10 links per month cap on your fresh account.
You’ll need to pay monthly subscription fees to be able to archive more links per month.
Link rot is a major challenge fact-checkers face and the tools above can help deal with it.