Twitter Opens Up Its Archives For Academics

  • The scientific community now has free access to the full archive of public tweets.
  • The feature comes as a part of an updated Twitter API (Application programming interface)
  • The platform did not allow researchers to easily access the data previously

Twitter feed will be no longer unavailable for the academic research community. The social network announced on Tuesday to open its tweets’ archives for the researchers that are analyzing user behavior, social trends, or fighting disinformation.

The new Academic Research product track comes as a part of the improved Twitter API, introduced last summer. Academic researchers are one of the largest groups of people using the Twitter API, said the company.

With the new research feature, scientists will have free access to the full history of public conversations, higher-level access to free monthly tweet volume, enhanced filtering capabilities, and new technical and methodological guides for more effective research.

The solution will address the most requested, biggest challenges that academic researchers face on the social media platform and will be only accessible for non-commercial purposes. According to Dr. Sarah Shugars, Assistant Professor at New York University:

The Academic Research product track gives researchers a window into understanding the use of Twitter and social media at large, and is an important step by Twitter to support the scientific community.

On the flipside

  • The opened tweets archive does not include data from the suspended accounts (Donald Trump included).
  • Deleting tweets after they are no longer public will be mandatory for developers.
  • Only master’s students, doctoral candidates, post-docs, faculty, or research-focused employees at an academic institution or university will be able to apply for access to tweet archives.

Twitter did not make it easy for the research community to access the public data archives in the past. “Despite this, for over a decade, academic researchers have used Twitter data for discoveries and innovations that help make the world a better place,” said Adam Tornes and Leanne Trujillo, the product managers at the Twitter developer platform.

Helped researching COVID-19 tweets

The social media giant, however, opened up its archives for researchers to study millions of COVID-19 tweets in April 2020. The approved applicants then were able to use t to follow the spread of the virus or track the false information.

Twitter said that this access could also be used by approved applicants working on crisis management, emergency response, or communication within communities, as well as those developing machine learning and data tools to help the scientific community understand COVID-19.

The company’s free public API (Application Programming Interface) access of the time allowed a small percentage of its full content, while the higher levels of access were available for a certain payment. The social network updated its API in August 2020 that gives access to the site’s public data. The latest data track feature for academics is a part of the process.

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