• Home
  • Research papers
  • Researchers fear what a Musk acquisition could mean for Twitter’s search data – TechCrunch

Researchers fear what a Musk acquisition could mean for Twitter’s search data – TechCrunch

By on May 1, 2022 0

Much has been writes about Elon Musk’s bid to acquire Twitter, an effort that, despite substantial backing from Morgan Stanley and Twitter’s board approval, holds firm uncertain footing at present.

Reports and pundits have focused on the security implications of the proposed acquisition, as well as Musk’s potential approaches to content moderation and, on a related topic, his understanding of the concept of “freedom.” of expression”. But another consequential aspect of the deal has received much less attention: how Twitter’s data access policy for research might change under a Musk regime.

Twitter does not have still had a warm relationship with the researchers. However, in recent years, the social network has made progress in gaining access to its archives at a time when its rivals have gained the upper hand. opposite step. In January 2021, Twitter claimed that academic researchers were one of the largest groups using its API.

Some researchers worry that Musk doesn’t share the same commitment to open access to data, especially given the vitriol he’s shown in the past toward reports that paint his companies (including Tesla) in an unflattering light. .

So far, Twitter has been unique among major platforms when it comes to making data available to researchers. David G. Rand

In 2018, Musk committed to — but ultimately didn’t — build a website to assess the “fundamental truth” of articles and reporters in response to reports of Tesla car crashes, Tesla’s labor issues, and its relationship with Wall Street.

Mor Naaman, a professor of information science at Cornell Tech, envisions a future in which Musk becomes hostile toward researchers exposing Twitter’s “challenges and shortcomings.”

“I’m pessimistic that Twitter will continue to fight for accountability as a private company under Musk,” Naaman, who has worked with Twitter data since 2009, told TechCrunch via email. “I don’t believe that research like we did on [former President Donald Trump’s] The Stop the Steal campaign – and the data we collected on Twitter and made available to other researchers, used in 12 different articles since last year – would be allowed to happen under Musk. Second, I can’t imagine the internal teams that review the ethics and bias of company systems will continue to function well, let alone publish their findings publicly.

“If they continue to publish, these publications will have a much harder time overcoming the already existing suspicion around the business-friendly biased nature of platforms publishing their own research papers.”

Among other promises, Musk said he plans to “defeat spam bots” on Twitter – apparently referring to malicious accounts that replicate misinformation and perpetuate scams. But not all bots are harmful, MIT Media Lab postdoctoral researcher Orestis Papakyriakopoulos told TechCrunch via email.