Twitter gives researchers access to all tweets - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Twitter gives researchers access to all tweets

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Twitter has been making about 1 percent of all tweets available to researchers who are researching politics, financial markets and even health issues. But now those researchers will have access to every single tweet since 2006. Some are concerned that releasing health information people have Tweeted about could put twitter users at risk.

The alarm has been sounded to be careful about the health issues you're tweeting because research groups will now have access to your public tweets to crunch the data to see what they can learn about illness and diseases.

Pedram Tabibi, a social media attorney, says when you sign up for twitter the terms of the agreement basically give twitter the ability to share your information with whomever the company wants. In some cases that could benefit users.

However, when it comes to health issues many are concerned that information could be used against them in the future. For example, if you're tweeting about diabetes and the tweets somehow end up in the hands of a health insurance company, the company might not cover you for a predisposed condition.

Disease researchers at Virginia Tech University are so concerned about Twitter users that they are urging researchers all over the country to follow the same ethical privacy standards that they already follow for other research. Bryan Lewis says the danger is that researchers could compile information about individual Twitter users, track all of their social media use, and find out just about anything about you.

We reached out to Twitter to talk about the issue, but we have not heard back so far.

Click for VT research paper

Click for summary of VT research

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