Twitter Opens Its Enormous Archives to Data-Hungry Academics

tags: Twitter, archives




Twitter is sharing its massive trove of data with the academic world — for free.

The social networking outfit has long sold access to its enormous collection of tweets — a record of what the people of the world are doing and saying — hooking companies like Google and Yahoo into the “Twitter fire hose.” But now, through a new grant program, it wants to make it easier for social scientists and other academics to explore its tweet archive, which stretches back to 2006.

Twitter previously worked with researchers from Johns Hopkins University to predict where flu outbreaks will hit, and the new program aims to open doors for similar projects. The company is now accepting applications from researchers, who have until March 15 to submit a proposal.

Academics see huge value in the data collected by social media companies like Twitter and Facebook. “You’ve got potentially the largest data set on human interaction ever,” Devin Gaffney — a developer at a tech startup called Little Bird who holds a master’s degree in Social Science of the Internet from Oxford University — told us last year. “It will be biased towards people who are on the internet, but it’s still better than before. Plus, it’s less work. You don’t have to talk to 10,000 people. You just write some code to do it for you.”...



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