10 years later, ‘inconsequential’ tweets a boon for researchers

July 15, 2016 “just setting up my twttr,” social media entrepreneur Jack Dorsey typed into a website. Ten years later, Twitter is the place where much of the world “talks to itself” in 140 characters or less. A July 15, 2006, news story is credited with bringing Twitter into the public’s consciousness, and since then it has become a fertile ground for researchers interested in tracking social, cultural, and political trends, including topics such as disease outbreaks, the dynamics of campaigns, and consumer preferences. Dorsey and his cofounders chose the name “twitter” because it described “a short inconsequential burst of information.” And yet, Twitter is anything but “inconsequential” in terms of data science research and its applications. Using machine learning, natural language processing and other data science techniques, researchers leverage…


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