Twitter opens up data for researchers to study COVID-19 tweets

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Twitter Inc will grant researchers and software developers access to a real-time data stream of tens of millions of daily public tweets about COVID-19, which they can use to study the spread of the disease or track misinformation, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The Twitter logo and binary cyber codes are seen in this illustration taken November 26, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

30 Apr 2020 01:05AM

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REUTERS: Twitter Inc will grant researchers and software developers access to a real-time data stream of tens of millions of daily public tweets about COVID-19, which they can use to study the spread of the disease or track misinformation, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.

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.

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Social media platforms have both introduced new policies to curb COVID-19 misinformation and warned that there may be errors due to their reliance on more automated moderation systems during the pandemic. Researchers studying the platforms have argued that the companies must collect data about this period.

European Commissioner Vera Jourova called Twitter's move "a good step in the right direction."

"Our cooperation and regular contacts with online platforms to fight disinformation are bearing fruit. I have constantly underlined the importance for researchers to have better access to useful non-personal data and tools," she said.

Last week, 75 groups and individuals, including digital rights and free speech organizations, wrote an open letter to social media platforms asking them to preserve and publish their content moderation data.

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However, Twitter said that once tweets were taken down, they would have to be removed from this COVID-19 data set.

Currently, Twitter's free, public API access offers a small percentage of its full stream of tweets, although the company does provide greater levels of access to paying clRead More – Source

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