Twitter’s New Data Access Model Criticized by Researchers, Hampering Progress in Key Areas of Study”
Academic researchers have expressed concerns over Twitter’s new tiered paywall, which charges exorbitant prices and severely limits access to valuable data, hindering critical studies on misinformation, harassment, and other malicious online activities. These limitations, they warn, could impede research on public health initiatives, foreign propaganda, political discourse, and even the bot and spam problems that Twitter has been grappling with.
The Coalition for Independent Technology Research, a group representing a range of researchers and civil society organizations, has issued an open letter, arguing that Twitter’s previous free and open access to its data had enabled systematic, large-scale research. However, the new pricing plans, which begin at $100 per month for a basic amount of data, provide very little volume for low-end users, and the high-end enterprise tier is unaffordable for researchers, ranging from $42,000 to $210,000 per month. The new basic tier also limits users to just 10,000 tweets per month, a mere 0.3% of what researchers previously had access to in a single day.
This new pricing model has drawn criticism for its potential to impede progress in key areas of research, including public accountability and transparency. Researchers argue that even studying a small population such as members of the US Congress or the European Parliament will be unfeasible under the new pricing plans. They also point out that the pricing changes will end 76 long-term efforts, including dashboards, tools, and code packages that support other researchers, journalists, first-responders, educators, and Twitter users.
Despite the criticism, it remains to be seen how Twitter will respond to the concerns raised by the academic community. However, the social media giant has the opportunity to work with researchers to create more affordable and accessible data access plans that could pave the way for new discoveries and solutions to the challenges facing social media today.