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Twitter's New Data Access Rules

Change will make social media research harder

Much of what we know about social media discourse is thanks to Twitter's longtime policy of allowing free access to its data. That has made Twitter data a treasure trove for researchers eager to study online behavior, including how falsehoods and conspiracy theories circulate. Kate Starbird remembers how Twitter research dominated the field between 2010 and 2015.

"You look at some of the conferences we attended, you know, 50% of the social computing papers would be about Twitter and sometimes even more, because that was the data that we had access to," says Starbird, a researcher at the University of Washington who studies online information dynamics during crises, including disinformation.

But in the latest change to the social media service since billionaire Elon Musk bought the company last year, Twitter announced Thursday that it would start charging users at least $100 a month for using its data pipeline starting Feb. 13, with one exception - users that tweet less than 1,500 times a month, an average of twice an hour or less.

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