Gear

The Wayback Machine Can Now Highlight Changes in Copy on Websites

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Wayback Machine

Since it was released in 2001, the Wayback Machine has been a very useful digital bank of the World Wide Web.

By constantly crawling and caching pages for the archive, the Wayback Machine has amassed over 366 billion web pages, 20 million books and texts, 4 million videos, and tons of software programs.

Now the Internet Archive machine, the San Francisco-based nonprofit behind the service, is making it more accessible to track changes between two snapshots.

The new feature, called “Changes,” lets you compare two different archives of a given URL. It gives a side-by-side comparison, with changes highlighted in blue (added content) and yellow (deleted content).

Selecting a snapshot is easy. You just tap the appropriate dates, and then click the “Compare” button on top.

One of the most beneficial uses of this feature I can conceive of is to track changes in privacy policies. For example, when I asked for Facebook’s data policy changes over the last two years, this is what I got —

As you can see from the highlighted blues and yellows, the policy has experienced extensive revisions.

This can also be handy if you want to match a website’s about page, or even check if a news story has been updated over time  —

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