Privacy fears as Twitter allows data mining
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 28 Feb 2012 at 10:19
Companies can now access two years of Twitter data after UK company Datasift launched a service called Historics to tap into trends.
The company said it set up the system to make better use of Twitter's trove of data, allowing it to be mined for brand management, financial trends, or for social and political data to gauge public opinion.
“To create insights from social data, we enrich every Tweet with details including sentiment, topics, web links, location and social media influence – giving companies an unprecedented capability to filter social data, extract meaning and create insights,” the company claims on its website introducing the system.
Twitter has turned a social network that was meant to promote real-time global conversation into a vast market-research enterprise with unwilling, unpaid participants
The company told PC Pro the move was the first time such a long-term slab of data was being made available, with previous data tools restricted to 30 days.
"Twitter lets you go back a week with public search, and there are tools through partnerships that extend to 30 days, but this is the first time this much data is being made available," a spokesperson told PC Pro.
Users of the service would have access to data from all 250 million tweets a day going back two years.
However, the move drew criticism from privacy campaigners who were concrerned Twitter users would not expect to have their thoughts scrutinised two years later.
"People have historically used Twitter to communicate with friends and networks in the belief that their tweets will quickly disappear into the ether," Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, told the BBC.
"The fact that two years' worth of tweets can now be mined for information and the resulting 'insights' sold to businesses is a radical shift in the wrong direction," he said.
"Twitter has turned a social network that was meant to promote real-time global conversation into a vast market-research enterprise with unwilling, unpaid participants."
Datasift, on the other hand, points out that Twitter is a public forum, with posts available to anyone on the service.
"This is meant for macro-level analysis, not looking at individuals," the company said, adding that private profiles or deleted tweets would not be included in results.
"Twitter is not like Facebook where much more is private - it's a public forum."
Is your business a social business? For helpful info and tips visit our hub.
Sorry, but the privacy campaigners can shove their worries where the sun doesn't shine!
I am usually all for privacy and not being tracked, BUT the whole point of Twitter is that the messages are put straight into the public domain. That is the whole purpose of the system.
If you don't want people looking at what you wrote, don't write it!
As long as they aren't accessing direct messages, I can't see why they are getting their knickers in a twist!
By big_D on 28 Feb 2012
I doubt that many people believed tweets were deleted from existence after 7 days.
Be good for Cameron to see these data regarding the NHS.
By dubiou on 28 Feb 2012
- 20 years of PC Pro: our greatest review mistakes
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy