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.

Twitter hacked by Iranian Cyber Army

December 18th, 2009

TechCrunch is reporting that Twitter is down due to an attack by someone claiming to be part of the ‘Iranian Cyber Army’. Since Twitter is now down, we can’t show a screen shot, but Techrunch reports that a similar defacement is live at

Picture 1

    Iranian Cyber Army

    U.S.A. Think They Controlling And Managing Internet By
    Their Access, But THey Don’t, We Control And Manage
    Internet By Our Power, So Do Not Try To Stimulation
    Iranian Peoples To….


    Take Care.

Amazon S3 problems

July 20th, 2008

I guess this explains the problems we have been having with our Twitterment search engine for Twitter: Amazon S3 Down.

Twitterment, domain grabbing, and grad students who could have been rich!

July 8th, 2008

Here at Ebiquity, we’ve had a number of great grad students. One of them, Akshay Java, hacked out a search engine for twitter posts around early April last year, and named it twitterment. He blogged about it here first. He did it without the benefit of the XMPP updates, by parsing the public timeline. It got talked about in the blogosphere, (including by Scoble), got some press, and there was an article in the MIT Tech review that used his visualization of some of the twitter links. It even got talked about in Wired’s blog, something we found out only yesterday. We were also told that three days after the post in Wired’s blog, someone somewhere registered the domain (I won’t feed them pagerank by linking!), and set up a page that looks very similar to Akshay’s. It has Google Adsense, and of course just passes the query to Google with a site restriction to twitter. So they’re poaching coffee and cookie money from the students in our lab 🙂

So of course we played with Akshay’s hack, hosted it on one of our university boxes for a few months, but didn’t really have the bandwidth or compute (or time) resources to keep up. Startups such as summize appeared later and provided similar functionality. For the last week or two we’ve  been moving the code of twitterment to Amazon’s cloud to restart the service. Of course, today comes the news that twitter might buy summize, quasi confirmed by Om Malik. Lesson to you grad students — if you come up with something clever, file an invention disclosure with your university’s tech transfer folks. And don’t listen to your advisors if they think that there isn’t a paper in what you’ve hacked — there may yet be a few million dollars in it 🙂

First Obama-McCain Twitter debate starts tonight

June 20th, 2008

The Personal Democracy Forum is sponsoring a twitter debate tonight on “technology and government” between representatives of Barack Obama and John McCain to be moderated by Time magazine blogger Anna Marie Cox. A note on PDF has the details:

“The McCain campaign will be represented by Liz Mair, the online communications director of the Republican National Committee. The Obama campaign will be represented by Mike Nelson, a professor at Georgetown University who served in the Clinton White House under Vice President Gore on tech policy issues. He is an outside advisor to Obama’s campaign on issues of technology, media and telecommunications.”

Of course, it remains to be seen what kind of debate can happen if short taking points are further compressed into 140 character tweeting points. It will be an interesting experiment.

“Mike, Liz and Ana will be using their personal Twitter accounts, @mikenelson, @lizmair and @anamariecox, and we’ve also asked them to tag their responses with the hashtag #pdfdebate. We suggest that readers who want to follow along use a Twitter application like to track the conversation.”

The debate will start sometime tonight (Friday 20 June) and is expected to run through the end of the conference on Tuesday 24 June and maybe beyond.

Phoenix twittering from Mars

May 31st, 2008

MarsPhoenix is twittering from the North polar region of Mars.

Here’s a great picture of my deployed arm with the scoop on the end: I can’t wait to dig in the dirt next week. 10:14 PM May 29, 2008 from web

Phoenix is even carrying on conversations with some of its more than 10,000 followers.

@infoholic Yup, I can dig into frozen ground as hard as concrete. The scoop has special blades and a powered “rasp” to scrape ice. Cool! 11:09 PM May 29, 2008 from web in reply to infoholic

My first thought was that I wouldn’t want to be there when NASA gets the cell phone bill for little Phoenix. But then I read the story in the NYT, Phoenix to Earthlings: I’ve Landed! Awesome!, and found that,like a lot of important entities, Phoenix has people who do this for it.

“For users of Twitter, a Web microblogging service, the Phoenix Mars lander has been sending pithy news “tweets” to the cellphones and computers of interested ‘followers.’ As of late Friday, the Phoenix lander had 9,636 followers at Twitter, more than triple the number of a week earlier. According to, it ranks No. 30 among all Twitter feeds in the solar system.

Of course, the messages are not coming from Mars. Instead, Veronica McGregor, the news services manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., has been playing the part of Phoenix each night after she gets home from work, forwarding questions to the science team and then posting answers.”