If Twitter dies, what do we lose? Eyewitness accounts and raw data on human behavior and trolls

What does a cyber security researcher do? Build a system to generate detection alerts Security threats and vulnerabilitiesForest fire warden Tracks the spread of forest firesand public health professionals Try to predict up In health insurance exchanges have commonalities?

This story also appeared in The Conversation

They all rely on analyzing data from Twitter.

Twitter is a microblogging service, which means it is designed to share posts from short text clips and embedded audio and video clips. The ease with which people can share information among millions of others around the world on Twitter has made it very popular for real-time conversations. Whether it’s people tweeting about their favorite sports teams, or organizations and public figures using Twitter to reach a mass audience, Twitter has been part of the collective record for more than a decade.

Twitter Archives allow immediate and complete access per public tweet, which made Twitter both an archive of collective human behavior and as a fact-checking and certification service on a global scale. K Researcher who studies social mediaI believe these posts are of great value to academics, policy makers, and anyone who uses aggregate data to gain insights into human behavior.

Spread Scams and brand impersonatorsThe Advertisers bleedingAnd the chaos within the company Call the future of the platform questionable. If Twitter were to go under, the loss would reverberate around the world.

Human behavior analysis

Through its massive collection of tweets, Twitter has introduced new ways to define public discourse and new tools to map aggregate perceptions, and provides a window into human behavior at scale. Such as digital effects Or records of human activity allow researchers in fields ranging from the social sciences to health care to analyze a variety of phenomena.

From open-source intelligence to citizen science, Twitter has not only been a digital public square, but has also allowed researchers to infer situations that would be difficult to detect through methods derived from traditional field research. For example, people’s willingness to pay for policies and services that address climate change has traditionally been measured through subjective well-being surveys. Availability of sentiment data on Twitter for researchers and policy makers Another tool for assessing these positions for more meaningful action on climate change.

Public health researchers have found an association between tweeting about HIV and HIV infectionAnd they managed to Measure sentiment at the neighborhood level To assess the overall health of people in those neighborhoods.

place and time

Geotagged data from Twitter helps in a variety of areas such as urban land use And the Resilience. The ability to locate the collection of tweets allows researchers to correlate information in tweets with times and places—for example, associating tweets and postal codes with Identify vaccine frequency hotspots.

Twitter was invaluable in the field Open source intelligence (OSINT), especially for tracking war crimes. OSINT uses crowdsourcing to locate photos and videos. in Ukraine, Human rights investigators focused on the use of Twitter and TikTok To search for evidence of violations.

Open source intelligence has also been useful in piercing the fog of war. For example, OSINT analysts were quick to present evidence that the missile that exploded in Przewodow, Poland near the Ukrainian border on November 15, 2022 was most likely an S-300 anti-aircraft missile and was unlikely to be a ballistic or cruise missile launched by Russia. .

Accreditation and verification

Although the wrong information was It was widely shared on TwitterThe platform also acts as a global verification mechanism. First, a large number of people use Twitter and other social media platforms. With significant outsourcing, social media assumes the role of a trusted information provider, which reduces some of the uncertainty people face in searching for new information. Platforms perform an endorsement role that some scholars refer to as “general relevance algorithms,” in that it has replaced ad hoc business or technical expertise in determining what people need to know.

Another way was official accreditation. Prior to Elon Musk’s acquisition, Twitter’s verification method provided public figures with a blue checkmark on their profiles, which served as a shortcut to identifying whether a tweet came from. He was the one who claimed to be.

While problems like False newsAnd the misinformation And the hate speech Having the ability to count along with the huge number of people using the platform in real time has made Twitter a provider of reliable information and Fact checker.

public digital arena

Twitter’s dual role of promoting real-time communication and serving as arbiter of reliable information is of critical interest to academics, journalists, and government agencies. During an epidemic, for example, many public health Agencies turned to Twitter To reinforce behavior that reduces the risk of injury.

During disasters and emergencies, Twitter has been a great place to Crowd eyewitness statements. During Hurricane Harvey, for example, the researchers found that users responded to and interacted with Most of them are tweets from verified Twitter accounts, especially from government organizations. Official Twitter accounts helped spread the information quickly Water pollution crisis in West Virginia. Twitter data also helped Hurricane evacuations.

Twitter has also been an important way for people with disabilities to participate in public discourse.

The true value of Twitter is in enabling people to communicate with each other in real time and as an archive of collective behaviour. Recognizing this, international organizationsAnd the government agencies And the local governments They invest significant resources in using Twitter and become dependent on the platform. Senator Edward Markey described Twitter as “essential” to American society. If Twitter collapses, there is no clear alternative in sight.

This article has been republished from Conversation Under Creative Commons Licence. Read the The original article.

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