Twitter Inc will allow researchers and software developers access to a real-time data stream of tens of millions of daily public tweets about COVID-19, which they can use to study the spread of the disease or track misinformation, the company said on Wednesday.
Twitter said that this access could also be used by approved applicants working on crisis management, emergency response or communication within communities, as well as those developing machine learning and data tools to help the scientific community understand COVID-19.
Currently, Twitter’s free, public API access offers a small percentage of its full stream of tweets, although the company does provide greater levels of access to paying clients.
Researchers will be able to access tweets created from the moment they connect to the data set, but it will not provide historical data.
In the blog post, it said that any developer or researcher with an approved Twitter developer account can apply for access to the COVID-19 stream endpoint, but they must meet a set of requirements, including that the use case supports “the public good.”
Applicants will also have to explain how they will protect the privacy and safety of people represented in the data.
Twitter said that researchers would be bound by its usual rules projects analyzing health-related topics, for example, not deriving or inferring information about a Twitter user’s health and not storing any personal data about such sensitive information.