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Researchers using Twitter’s previously free Decahose data service will soon be required to pay a $42,000 monthly fee to continue using the service and retain their data.
Decahose, a streaming service that gives scientists seamless access to about 10% of all tweets in real time, has been a mainstay for academic research on a variety of topics, including emergency response, law enforcement, political disinformation and extremism.
Earlier this year, in conjunction with Elon Musk’s purchase of the company, Twitter announced that it would begin charging $100 to $42,000 per month for access to its many APIs.
For Academia, we are looking at new ways to continue serving this community. In the meantime Free, Basic and Enterprise tiers are available for academics. Stay tuned to TwitterDev?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow">@TwitterDev to learn more.
— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) TwitterDev/status/1641222788911624192?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow">March 29, 2023
Academics and universities using the Decahose service will have to pay a $42,000 per month “corporate” fee under the new rules, and the amount of available data will reportedly drop from 10% of total live tweets to 0.3% .
According to a report from the UK publication i news, an email was recently sent to researchers explaining that they could either start paying for access or delete all the data they received:
“Researchers who do not sign the new contract will be required to delete all Twitter data stored and cached on your systems.” Researchers will be required to post screenshots “demonstrating evidence of deletion.” They were given 30 days after their agreement expired to complete the process.”
The timing of this change is noteworthy as it came just days after Musk joined Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in announcing the latter’s bid for the White House in the 2024 US presidential election.
If everything goes according to plan, the upcoming Decahose access change could stifle global research efforts to study election misinformation and social manipulation ahead of the 2024 election as it takes place on one of the most politically active social networks in the world.
In addition to disinformation research, price changes will also limit academia’s ability to study Internet-related crimes such as human trafficking and financial scams. In addition, Decahose served as one of the Internet’s largest repositories of human sentiment, a data source that provides insights and predictions on virtually every social research topic imaginable.
Related: Elon Musk threatens Microsoft with legal action, claims AI trained on Twitter data
For example, most of the data used to study cryptocurrency sentiment comes from the data warehouses of Twitter and Reddit. By restricting access to this data, Twitter potentially hinders both ongoing research and new efforts.
One explanation for the price increase could be Musk’s ongoing efforts to ensure tech companies don’t use Twitter data to train their AI systems.