If you’ve ever tried to use Twitter search to find someone’s old tweet, you’ve likely been disappointed to find that the results leave you digging through only the most recent tweets, and that’s if they even match your search terms at all.

I’ve mentioned previously in my Research 101 posts that I publish a list of helpful investigative tools at my own blog for the convenience of bloggers and activists.  That list (not an exhaustive one) includes two tools to search for old tweets – Snapbird and Topsy.  As it turns out, one of those tools is making news today because of a new development that significantly enhances its use.

Previously, Topsy only allowed you to search as far back as 2010, but now every tweet since Twitter’s inception is available through its search engine.

From the NY Times:

On Wednesday, the San Francisco company announced that it has now indexed every Twitter message since the first tweet was posted in 2006 — about 425 billion pieces of content when you include photos, pages linked from Twitter, and other related material. (Previously, its complete archive only went back to 2010.)

And the database is free for the public to search at Topsy.com. Want to see what people are saying about President Obama and the Syria vote in Congress? A quick search pulls up what Topsy’s algorithm thinks are the most relevant results, factoring in retweets and the past influence of the tweeter. You can narrow down results by time frame, search for tweets in 10 languages, and see a graph with the volume of tweets over time and an indicator of the general sentiment, positive or negative.

I’ve been using this tool for quite awhile myself and it was helpful even before this, with its main drawback being the limitation on how far back you could search.  In comparison with Snapbird.org, it’s a bit more robust in the filters it offers and its ability to search other mediums as well.  So this was welcome news today from Topsy, indeed.

Which reminds me, I’m overdue for the next Research 101 post…

In the meantime, happy searching.