From The Verge: Twitter was once a mainstay of academic research — a way to take the pulse of the internet. But as new owner Elon Musk has attempted to monetize the service, researchers are struggling to replace a once-crucial tool. Unless Twitter makes another about-face soon, it could close the chapter on an entire era of research.
“Research using social media data, it was mostly Twitter-ology,” says Gordon Pennycook, an associate professor of behavioral science at the University of Regina. “It was the primary source that people were using,”
Until Musk’s takeover, Twitter’s API — which allows third-party developers to gather data — was considered one of the best on the internet. It enabled studies into everything from how people respond to weather disasters to how to stop misinformation from spreading online. The problems they addressed are only getting worse, making this kind of research just as important as ever. But Twitter decided to end free access to its API in February and launched paid tiers in March. The company said it was “looking at new ways to continue serving” academia but nevertheless started unceremoniously cutting off access to third-party users who didn’t pay. While the cutoff caused problems for many different kinds of users, including public transit agencies and emergency responders, academics are among the groups hit the hardest.
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