Twitter has teamed up with UK-based company Datasift to offer businesses the ability to search through and analyse up to two years worth of Twitter updates for market research purposes.
Up until now, the search capabilities of Twitter only allowed companies to go back as far as the last 30 days of tweets, while regular users were restricted to the past seven days. Speaking to the BBC, Tim Barker – Datasift’s marketing manager – said “It’s a brand new service that we’re bringing online – it’s a massive technology challenge because of the amount of data that is pumped out every single day.”
On an average day the company compiles around 250 million tweets which are then analysed for content such as positive or negative sentiment. In addition to this, location data will be logged where available, and Datasift are also keen to stress that private accounts and deleted tweets will NOT be indexed by the site.
This looks set to be a very useful tool for companies wanting to gauge the public opinion on a number of matters. However, there are concerns from privacy campaigners, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation describing the service as “creepy”. Having said that, unless your tweets are protected, every update you make on Twitter is completely public, so people should be aware that any tweets they make are fair game for the whole world, should it reach that far.
So companies can mine the data, but what about individuals? If you are a prolific Twitter user it can be a very laborious process trying to find one of your own tweets or mentions from even a few weeks ago. Thankfully SocialSafe allows you to backup and search your Twitter timeline, mentions, messages and people who you follow/follow you, so you can really take a detailed look at your online social life!