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Twitter unlocks tools to help researchers study COVID-19 tweets

It could help researchers track the spread of misinformation.
Karissa Bell, @karissabe
April 29, 2020
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BRAZIL - 2020/04/08: In this photo illustration the Twitter logo seen displayed on a smartphone with a computer model of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the background. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SOPA Images via Getty Images

Twitter is making it a lot easier for researchers and developers to study conversations about the coronavirus on its platform. The company introduced a new set of tools that makes the “many tens of millions” of daily public tweets about the coronavirus available to the site’s developers.

“We know developers and researchers are full of inspiring ideas that may help the world learn from and improve our collective understanding of and response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company wrote in an update.

The new COVID-19 stream endpoint will allow researchers and developers to access the millions of tweets about the coronavirus in real-time. Though use of the API is free, interested developers will need to apply in order to gain access. Twitter says it will screen applicants, who must have experience working with Twitter data, as well as “the necessary infrastructure in place to process, store, and analyze the many millions of Tweets being generated every day.”

Studying tweets related to the coronavirus pandemic could help researchers better understand a range of issues related to the pandemic, including misinformation, crisis management and how an increased reliance on automated content moderation affects conversations.

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