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Twitter Silent on Sale of User Data: The Cost of “Free”
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Your Twitter data is up for sale by research companies licensed by Twitter. And if you suddenly wake up and think deleting your information from Twitter and closing your Twitter account now is going to help you, it may not. The only rider is that while public data can be accessed, private or deleted tweets cannot. Twitter refrained from making any comment on the issue and instead referred the questions to the concerned research companies.

According to a Reuters report released on March 1 two companies licensed by Twitter to analyze archived tweets and basic information about users announced this week that they will release Twitter data in packages for data mining to paying customers.

This is set to happen in spite of the fact that the U.S. Library of Congress is still undecided about the use of Twitter data for the public and there are stated restrictions of the U.S. Library of Congress on use of all tweets shared by Twitter with the government. Current restrictions on government authorities include a six-month delay and a prohibition against using the data for commercial purposes.

  
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However, the concerned research companies are not restricted by such prohibitions.

While one of the companies, Colorado-based Gnip Inc can go back only to 30 days of archives, the other company Datasift Inc, based in U.K has announced that it will release Twitter user data encompassing last two years activity to its customers.

Datasift CEO Rob Bailey has said in an interview with Reuters that more than 700 companies are waiting for the offering, and that purchasers would be able to view tweets on specific topics and would be able to differentiate and identify tweets based on geographic location. This will lead to having greater understanding of focus groups.

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Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego said, “Harvesting what someone said a year of more ago is game-changing.” Privacy rights experts are concerned about the information being available for detailed inspection by big business.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for internet security company Sophos Ltd. said “Online companies know which websites we click on, which adverts catch our eye, and what we buy … increasingly, they’re also learning what we’re thinking. And that’s quite a spooky thought.”





 

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