Data uses include measuring happiness levels in cities based on Twitter images shared.
Twitter has a 200-million-strong and ever-growing user base that broadcasts 500 million updates daily. It has been lauded for its ability to unsettle repressive political regimes, bring much-neededaccountability to corporations that mistreat their customers, and combat other societal ills (whether such characterizations are, in fact, accurate).
Now, the company has taken aim at disrupting another important sphere of human society: the scientific research community.
In response, computational epidemiologists Caitlin Rivers and Bryan Lewis have proposed guidelines for ethical research practices when using social media data, such as avoiding personally identifiable information and making all the results publicly available.
Whether or not Twitter and the scientists who have access to the company's data follow such guideposts, one thing is clear—the trend of mining social media data for various purposes won’t be tapering off anytime soon.