Since Twitter became popular, companies have been looking through Twitter postings, trying to get any information that may help them improve their products and services. But with more than 200 million tweets sent every day, not everyone has the time to go through all of them, and if they do I kind of feel sorry for them. The need for knowing information led to hundreds of social media-monitoring companies employing people with too much time and too little money. However, they were still limited to the tweets that could be accessed by individual users.
Until recently that is. Twitter has decided to make it easier for these companies to mine billions of messages for valuable marketing data. The company will open its archives and sell its old tweets. One of Twitter’s new customers, DataSift, has formed an alliance with the social network to get access to tweets going back to January 2010.
“Twitter has really become an incredibly valuable information source,” said DataSift’s CEO, Rob Bailey. “There are a flood of companies wanting to get more use from it.” Starting next month, DataSift will launch a service that will allow other companies to analyze more than two years worth of tweets to gain more information about their customers.
This access to over 150 billion messages will give DataSifts clients a greater knowledge of commercial trends. According to its website, DataSift promises customers will be able to “unlock trends from public tweets” and “access the full Twitter firehose.” Users will pay DataSift for only the data it uses, and DataSift will then share a portion of the profit with Twitter.
In addition to DataSift, Twitter also has partnered with Gnip, a Colorado-based online data-mining company, to license its historical tweets.
The company emphasizes that it won’t have access to deleted tweets or Twitter user’s private messages. While it may seem like an invasion of property, your information is no more in danger than it was when you first posted it on Twitter. Because Twitter is a public forum, privacy advocates may have some difficulties raising their objections. “We welcome the privacy debate,” said DataSift CEO.
Many people are going to complain about an invasion of privacy, most likely on social networking sites like Twitter. These cries will fall on deaf ears considering anyone who read the terms of service of Twitter would know that this is what they signed up for. It is all legal, especially considering almost anyone can already see what is posted on Twitter. Twitter is just making it easier to see them, for a tidy profit.