Twitter Partners To Sell Access To Archived Tweets
March 1, 2012

Twitter Partners To Sell Access To Archived Tweets

Two research companies who have been licensed by Twitter to access archived posts on the microblogging website are preparing to release information to paying clients, despite the protests of online privacy advocates.

As reported by Telegraph Digital Media Editor Emma Barnett on Tuesday, Twitter this week announced a partnership with Datasift, a UK company that touts itself as "the world's first social-data platform," that will grant the firm access to all Twitter posts or "tweets" dating back to January 2010.

Barnett noted that businesses can pay a fee to access the entire two-year database of tweets, marking the first time that any company would be able to gain access to posts more than 30 days old.

On Thursday, Mitch Lipka of Reuters notes that DataSift, which also has a US office based in San Francisco, has a waiting list of more than 700 companies seeking access to the information they promise to provide, according to what company CEO Rob Bailey said in an interview. Businesses that purchase access to the data will be able to see tweets on specific topics, and will also be able to target specific geographical areas, Lipka added.

The information will be provided to companies via a cloud computing platform known as Historics, which saw a limited launch this week and will see a widespread release in April, TechCrunch's Leena Rao reported on Monday.

"Developers, businesses and organizations can essentially use DataSift to mine the Twitter firehose of social data. But what makes DataSift special (besides the premier access to Twitter data) is that it can then filter this social media data for demographic information, online influence and sentiment, either positive or negative," Rao said.

"DataSift does not limit searches based on keywords and allows companies of any size to define extremely complex filters, including location, gender, sentiment, language, and even influence based on Klout score, to provide quick and very specific insight and analysis," she added. "Basically, DataSift aggregates this public social data, enriches it, filters and delivers this data social media monitoring, business intelligence and CRM applications. DataSift enriches every Tweet with details including sentiment, topics, web-links, location and social media influence so that companies can extract meaning and create insights."

Bailey told her that one-fifth of the companies on the Fortune 500 were on the waiting list for Historics, and DataSift founder and CTO Nick Halstead assed that the platform was so powerful that it could process an entire month's worth of Twitter data in a single hour.

"No-one's ever done this before," DataSift Marketing Manager Tim Barker told BBC Technology Reporter Dave Lee on Tuesday. "It's a brand new service that we're bringing online - it's a massive technology challenge because of the amount of data that is pumped out every single day."

Previously, companies were only able to search 30 days worth of tweets, both Lee and Lipka reported. One of the companies sharing data with businesses under such an agreement is Colorado-based Gnip, Inc. They told Reuters that the information that they collect, which includes real-time viewing, can be used to help rescuers during natural disasters, to keep an eye on stock market viewpoints, and the help battle widespread illnesses.

However, there are many commercial uses for the information as well.

"For instance, Coca-Cola Co could look at what people in Massachusetts are saying about its Coke Zero, or Starbucks Corp could find out what people in Florida are saying about caramel lattes," Lipka said. "Companies can also look at how they have responded to consumer complaints."

Reuters reports that no private conversations or deleted tweets can be accessed under the agreement, but nonetheless, privacy advocates are displeased with the licensing agreements.

"People have historically used Twitter to communicate with friends and networks in the belief that their tweets will quickly disappear into the ether," Privacy International Executive Director Gus Hosein told the BBC. "The fact that two years' worth of tweets can now be mined for information and the resulting 'insights' sold to businesses is a radical shift in the wrong direction“¦ Twitter has turned a social network that was meant to promote real-time global conversation into a vast market-research enterprise with unwilling, unpaid participants."

"People may consider tweets to be personal property but this deal makes clear they are not. Our personal posts on social media are yet another way for advertisements to be better targeted and that´s a very lucrative industry," added Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, in an interview with Keith Gladdis of the Daily Mail. "It´s clear that if you´re not paying for a service, you are not the customer — you´re the product."


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