Twitter changes TOS;might hurt researchers

March 7th, 2011

ReadWriteWeb reports that Twitter recently made changes in its Terms of Service. Specifically, Twitter will no longer grant any more requests for whitelisting and it would no longer allow redistribution of its content either for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Twitter whitelisting was a way of allowing developers or researchers to access large quantities of data via the REST api. Although Twitter will honor already “whitelisted developers”, it will not grant any further requests.

The second change in the Terms of Service is with respect to redistribution of content.  This means any one who is gathering twitter data whether a developer or researcher can no longer share it with others even if it is for academic or non-commercial purposes. As ReadWriteWeb points out these changes will most likely hurt researchers who are dependent on third party organizations to provide data for their research.

As part of the new Twitter¬†terms of service, 140kit like other organizations can no longer offer exports of Twitter data for any purposes – whether that’s for profit or non-profit, whether that’s for developers or scholars. You could be writing the next killer app. Or you could be working on the final chapter of your PhD dissertation. (And let me interject right here and say that having your access to research data shut down as a PhD student is beyond devastating.) It doesn’t matter. Exporting Tweets now violates the TOS.

It looks like Twitter just made it difficult for researchers to access data for their research.