Google Debuts Realtime Search For Archived Twitter Content


Google on Tuesday confirmed a new search function that presents archived Twitter content as a timeline, meaning that users will be able to search for topics and see Twitter tweets related to those topics, organized in a scrolling list by day.

The function, which Google is calling a "replay feature," will allow users to search for Twitter tweets as they happen but also see what's been tweeted about a particular topic in the past. In essence, it'll be Google providing an archive of past Twitter content for public consumption -- something, as Google itself notes, that had before been "almost impossible to find online."

"Starting today, you can zoom to any point in time and 'replay' what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter," wrote Dylan Casey, Google product manager for real-time search, in a Wednesday post to the Google Blog. "By replaying tweets, you can explore any topic that people have discussed on Twitter. Want to know how the news broke about health care legislation in Congress, what people were saying about Justice Paul Stevens' retirement or what people were tweeting during your own marathon run? These are the kinds of things you can explore with the new updates mode."

The move is another key step in Google's real-time search strategy, which it kicked off in December with revamped search tools. Given Twitter's success as a realtime-updated microblogging service, Google, Facebook and other search providers and social networking platforms have made real-time search capabilities a continued priority, whether partnering with Twitter or not.

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Google's Twitter search function is available in English and will be made generally available over the next few days. According to Google, only tweets going back to February 2010 will be available immediately. Eventually, said Google, it will be able to index Twitter messages as far back as Twitter's March 21, 2006 debut.

"All of us are just beginning to understand the many ways real-time information and short-form web content will be useful in the future, and we think being able to make use of historical information is an important part of that," wrote Google's Casey.