Twitter vient de mettre un terme à la recherche académique

Twitter, which was once a valuable resource for academic research, is facing challenges as it tries to monetize its services under Elon Musk’s ownership. Researchers are struggling to find a suitable replacement for the platform, which could eventually result in the end of an entire era of research. Prior to Musk taking over, Twitter’s API was highly regarded and allowed third-party developers to gather data. This enabled studies on various topics, such as reactions to weather disasters and the spread of misinformation online. However, Twitter ended free access to its API in February and implemented paid tiers in March, making it expensive for researchers to continue using the platform. As a result, many have had to stop using Twitter and search for alternative data sources. Twitter provided researchers with the opportunity to observe real reactions from users, which was crucial in studying human behavior. Without access to individual tweets, researchers are limited to surveying users about their hypothetical behavior on social media platforms. This is insufficient, as proving the effectiveness of interventions requires real-time experiments. In response to Twitter’s restrictions, a coalition of researchers sent a letter to the platform, highlighting the negative impact on over 250 research projects. They also set up a mutual aid effort to help each other gather data before losing access to Twitter’s API. Unfortunately, the restrictions imposed by Twitter have severely hindered their ability to conduct research. Twitter’s most affordable API tier only allows for the collection of 10,000 tweets per month, compared to the previous free access to a significantly higher number. As a result, important research tools like Botometer, which rates the likelihood that a Twitter account is a bot, may soon become obsolete. The closure of Botometer would greatly impact researchers focusing on misinformation and bots on social media. While scraping data directly from websites is an alternative, it is a more laborious process and carries its own risks. Additionally, other social media platforms are also limiting API access, making it difficult for researchers to switch platforms. This trend raises concerns about the future availability of data for research purposes. The landscape is changing, and researchers are uncertain about what the future holds. There are signs that things may worsen, as Twitter reportedly instructed researchers to delete data they had collected through its decahose (which provides a sample of 10 percent of all content on the platform) if they did not pay for an enterprise account. This development has serious implications for ongoing research projects and limits our understanding of the world. Overall, Twitter’s shift towards monetization poses a significant threat to academic research and its ability to access valuable data for studying human behavior and societal trends.

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