Twitter Prohibits Research on Osama Bin Laden Tweets...
Here's a quick news story that should be tossed into the "ridiculous" category.
Academic researchers are constantly data mining social media websites to collect information. This can be extremely useful in analyzing trends and other metrics.
So after the news broke on Sunday night that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, some researchers thought it might be valuable to analyze the thousands of tweets referring to the story. I was personally emailed a link to an archive of such tweets in XML format to be used in conjuction with DiscoverText software.
The datafiles were samples taken from live feed Twitter imports starting shortly after the announcement that Osama bin Laden’s death.
- Twitter searches for "bin laden" (647,585 documents, 505 MB)
- Twitter searches for "osama" (586,665 documents, 451 MB)
This was all for research purposes, however Twitter quickly shut down the project citing their Terms of Service (TOS) Agreement.
I was notified of the shut-down in a follow-up email that reiterated...
To be clear: we were giving the data away, not selling it. Also, it was not scraped of Twitter. Rather, it was gathered using a Twitter-authorized account and an API that lets us fetch 1500 items at a time. It is a shame that the now 2 million tweets cannot, for example, be sampled and coded using a crowd source model.
Stuart Shulman is exactly right - this is prime historical data and there is no conceivable reason why Twitter would need to prohibit the aggregation of such data for non-commercial research purposes.
Someone over there needs to implement a little common sense.
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