opened its archives to researchers--for free. Here is a taste of an article at Wired:
The social networking outfit has long sold access to its enormous
collection of tweets — a record of what the people of the world are
doing and saying — hooking companies like Google and Yahoo into the
“Twitter fire hose.” But now, through a new grant program, it wants to
make it easier for social scientists and other academics to explore its
tweet archive, which stretches back to 2006.
Twitter previously worked with researchers from Johns Hopkins University to predict where flu outbreaks will hit,
and the new program aims to open doors for similar projects. The
company is now accepting applications from researchers, who have until
March 15 to submit a proposal.
Academics see huge value in the data collected by social media
companies like Twitter and Facebook. “You’ve got potentially the largest
data set on human interaction ever,” Devin Gaffney — a developer at a
tech startup called Little Bird who holds a master’s degree in Social Science of the Internet from Oxford University — told us last year.
“It will be biased towards people who are on the internet, but it’s
still better than before. Plus, it’s less work. You don’t have to talk
to 10,000 people. You just write some code to do it for you.”