//We consider the material we post onto social networks as something that will always be there, just a click of a keyboard away. But the recent loss of some 12 years of music and photos on the pioneering social site MySpace – once the most popular website in the US – shows that even material stored on the biggest of sites may not be safe.
And even Google's services are not immune. Google+, the search giant's attempt at a Facebook-rivalling social network, closed on 2 April. Did all its users back up the photos and memories they shared on it?
“Putting your photos on Facebook is not archiving them, because one day Facebook won’t exist,” says Webber. If you have any doubt about the temporary nature of the Web, take a few minutes to trawl through the Million Dollar Homepage. It is the testament to how quickly our online past is fading away.
There is another side to data loss. Dame Wendy points out that not archiving stories from news websites could lead to a selective view of history – new governments choosing not to save stories or archives which have cast them in a poor light, for instance.//
Good advice. If you aren't in direct control of your data or images, they're subject to loss.
It took nearly five years into the internet’s life before anyone made a concerted effort to archive it. Much of our earliest online activity has disappeared. The Internet Archive first started archives pages in 1996. That’s five years after the first webpages were set up. There’s nothing from that era that was ever copied from the live web.” Even the first web page set up in 1991 no longer exists; the page you can view on the World Wide Web Consortium is a copy made a year later. One major problem with trying to archive the internet is that it never sits still. Every minute – every second – more photos, blog posts, videos, news stories, and comments are added to the pile. While digital storage has fallen drastically in price, archiving all this material still costs money. We produce so much more material than we used to. It took nearly five years into the internet’s life before anyone made a concerted effort to archive it. Much of our earliest online activity has disappeared.BBC Future has brought you in-depth and rigorous stories to help you navigate the current pandemic, but we know that’s not all you want to read.