Twitter has demanded that researchers delete the data they obtained under historic contacts to study Twitter, unless they agree to pay $42000 (over Rs 34 lakhs) per month. This news was first shared by iNewspaper.
Twitter used to offer a service called Decahose under which it delivered a 10% random sample of the real-time Twitter Firehose through a streaming connection. This data included details like expanded URLs, stream partitioning into 2 with each stream containing 50% volume of the Decahose stream and lastly the geographic diversity of backend systems. This data could be used by researchers or analysts to study the nature of social media conversations. The shared data was used by researchers to track spread of misinformation or extremism on Twitter.
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The new contract binds researchers to “expunge all Twitter data stored and cached data” on their systems and share screenshots “that showcase evidence of removal.”
The new contract has been met with criticism from researchers and privacy advocates. They say that the contract will make it much more difficult to study social media and its impact on society.
“The changes to the Twitter API are having catastrophic effects on our research into the spread of disinformation and its harms, the manipulation of social media, and the vulnerability of people and platforms to online abuse,” said Filippo Menczer, director of the Observatory on Social Media at Indiana University told the news website.
“Twitter is making it impossible to conduct the very research that alerted the world about the risks and pathologies of social media.”
Horta Ribeiro, a social media student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, feels this move from Twitter could impact “the reproducibility of the papers by research groups using the decahose.” However, he also believes that this change would affect only a small number of academic research as only a minority of researchers use Decahose data.
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