How-to: Wayback Machine

FactCheckNI How-to
Wayback Machine

Websites and their pages come and go. From a researcher’s perspective, it can be frustrating when you’ve cited a particular website page, only to discover later that it has been removed by the publisher or is otherwise no longer available. An American non-profit organisation, Internet Archive, launched a product in 2001 called Wayback Machine, which is a digital archive of the World Wide Web.

Wayback Machine uses software to “crawl” through a website and archive its contents in a similar way to popular search engines. Websites can be manually submitted to the service, though a website publisher can specifically prohibit the content being captured by Wayback Machine.

Fact checkers can use Wayback Machine to view news articles and other content — or even an entire website — that no longer exists. This can be useful to verify information that has been removed from the web.

Example

While investigating whether Translink met its goal of reducing journey times with its Glider bus service, FactCheckNI discovered that the original information was no longer available on Translink’s website. We used Wayback Machine to recover an archived version of the relevant page.

The original page we referenced was http://www.translink.co.uk/also-on-our-site/Glider/introducing-glider/ which displayed the following page on 1 July 2019:

We went to the Wayback Machine website at https://archive.org/web/ and entered the above URL into its search engine. The results showed a calendar-view chronology of when that page was indexed by Wayback Machine:

Clicking on the date, 19 October 2018, produced the following captured version of the webpage, which shows the original information on the Glider service:

Internet Archive provides an FAQ page of general information on Wayback Machine, and there are browser extensions and other tools that can help you use this service.

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