BKC Faculty Associate Casey Fiesler writes on how "scientists are increasingly using public social media data for research, and they’re not just examining tweets."
"The internet, especially social media, has provided researchers with access to a trove of information about human behavior that is just there for the taking. And these researchers (like me!) have a lot of questions that they want to use that data to answer."
BKC Faculty Associate Zeynep Tufekci "once called Twitter the “model organism” of social media research: researchers use Twitter data to answer questions because, like the fruit fly, the platform and its users are just so easy to study. Why is it so easy? Because Twitter data is almost entirely public.
Fiesler adds, "As researchers, we have a responsibility to acknowledge that factors like the type of data, the creator of that data, and our intended use for the data are important when it comes to using public information. These factors must inform the decisions we make about whether and how to collect data and to report findings. I hope the work that my collaborators and I are doing will help to inform best practices, so that, in the end, we can continue to contribute great science to the world while also respecting the people who share their data with us every day."