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Twitter Powered Scientific Research is About to Skyrocket Because of This Radical Move by Twitter

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Five hundred million tweets are broadcast worldwide every day on Twitter. The social media site is considerably less of a treasure trove of data for corporations than that of Facebook. But that could change – but maybe not for the purpose of marketing you products.

According to Scientific American, Scientists are looking to find patterns in human behaviors, tease out risk factors for health conditions and track the spread of infectious diseases. By analyzing emotional cues found in the tweets of pregnant women, for instance, Microsoft researchers developed an algorithm that predicts those at risk for postpartum depression. And the U.S. Geological Survey uses Twitter to track the location of earthquakes as people tweet about tremors.

Until now, most interested scientists have been working with a limited number of tweets. Although a majority of tweets are public, if scientists want to freely search the lot, they do it through Twitter’s application programming interface, which currently scours only 1 percent of the archive. Twitter announced that it will make all its tweets, dating back to 2006, freely available to researchers. Now that everything is up for grabs, the use of Twitter as a research tool is likely to skyrocket. With more data points to mine, scientists can ask more complex and specific questions.

The announcement is exciting, but it also raises some thorny questions. Will Twitter retain any legal rights to scientific findings? Is the use of Twitter as a research tool ethical, given that its users do not intend to contribute to research?

## What do you think? Amazing, helpful new technology, or just another way to intrude on people’s digital privacy?

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“Twitter Powered Scientific Research is About to Skyrocket Because of This Radical Move by Twitter”