A few months back, Twitter offered 6 research institutions access to their public and historical data under their #DataGrants program.  More than 1,300 proposals from over 60 countries were submitted.  With more than 500 million tweets per day, twitter data offers a wealth of information that helps researchers and analytics companies gauge user sentiment; monitor and predict social trends, like for example in determining the spread of epidenmics like influenza and ebola to intensity of earthquake using the volume of tweets generated in specific locations.

Twitter notices a raise in requests from academic researchers wanting access to their historical data and thus hopes to use the #DataGrants program to connect researchers to their data.  Application had since closed but you can still get updates and stay in touch with the program, via research.twitter.com and following@TwitterEng.  See here for a list of other interesting academic publications that uses twitter data.

But Twitter is not the only one, Tech Giants like Google and Facebook are also working with researchers to gleam trends from their data.  In 2012, Google released their first resource spanning 7,560,141 concepts and 175,100,788 unique text strings free for researchers to use. Thereafter, they continued to release different type of datasets e.g. Youtube Multiview Video Game Data and Google’s Wikilnks Corpus to the public.  Facebook’s team of data scientists also released data including analysis regularly on their Facebook page to the public. Analysis ranges from how earthquake affect Facebook activities to determining the physical mean distance between a mother and her child’s declared residences using Facebook data.  Mark Zuckerberg had also released a digital archive of all his public utterances in the social media via http://zuckerbergfiles.org.

While, researchers and public basked in these enormous public data, we also need to be mindful the ethical implications pertaining to personal data privacy and protection that comes with them.

Image Credit: freepik.com

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