Twitter Making It Easier To Study The Public Discussions Around COVID-19

from the good-to-see dept

There has been a lot of talk about how this moment in history is going to be remembered — and as Professor Jay Rosen has been saying, a key part is going to be an effort by the many people who failed to respond properly to rewrite the history of everything that happened:

There is going to be a campaign to prevent Americans from understanding what happened within the Trump government during the critical months of January to April, 2020. Many times Donald Trump told the nation that it has nothing to worry about because he and his people have the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus well in hand. They did not. He misled the country about that.

?It?s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control,? he told CNBC on January 22. ?We pretty much shut it down coming in from China,? he told Sean Hannity on February 2. On February 24, Trump tweeted that ?the Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.?

He misled the country. This basic fact is so damning, the evidence for it so mountainous, and the mountain of evidence so public ? and so personally attached to Donald Trump ? that the only option is to create confusion about these events, and about the pandemic generally, in hopes that people give up and conclude that the public record does not speak clearly and everything is propaganda.

The battle over rewriting history is going to take many forms in many different ways — and so it’s good to see a company like Twitter making it easier for researchers to look at the actual history of the public conversation during these months.

To further support Twitter?s ongoing efforts to protect the public conversation, and help people find authoritative health information around COVID-19, we?re releasing a new endpoint into Twitter Developer Labs to enable approved developers and researchers to study the public conversation about COVID-19 in real-time.

This is a unique dataset that covers many tens of millions of Tweets daily and offers insight into the evolving global public conversation surrounding an unprecedented crisis. Making this access available for free is one of the most unique and valuable things Twitter can do as the world comes together to protect our communities and seek answers to pressing challenges. 

It would be interesting to see if others (cough Facebook cough) would do the same thing as well. How the history of these times is written is going to be important in seeing how we deal with the next such crisis.

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Comments on “Twitter Making It Easier To Study The Public Discussions Around COVID-19”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I sure hope the press’s abject failure being stenographers for the WHO and the Surgeon General while ignoring medical professionals during those months will be recorded too. While I sympathize with the notion that they had no reason to mistrust those officials prior to this event, if we’re to have an accurate reading of history to ensure we properly respond to similar such events in the future, we must account for the press’ failure as well.

I don’t say this to distract from Trump’s failure. I say this because it wasn’t only’s Trump’s failure and history must not ignore either.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Rosen has been saying

Professor Jay Rosen is hardily a reputable source for objective analysis of the Trump Administration handling of Covid-19 crisis.

Despite Rosen’s previous reputation as an elite journalist, in recent years he has descended into a bitter emotional hater of all things Trump.

Rosen posted numerous irrational, anti-Trump essays on his PressThink blog since 2016. And he strongly advocated abandonment of traditional journalistic objectivity principles in favor of journalistic-political-activism — because Trump was a unique existential threat to our world.

Of course, like most media journalists, Rosen is a strong leftist with a political agenda.
No way could he deliver a fair historical account of the Covid-19 crisis, no matter the raw data source.

Why would someone now find Rosen’s viewpoint so notable?

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


All journalists have biases. Someone must decide what to publish, what to distill out of the mass of available data, and what facts to check. You delude yourself if you assume any given journalist or media outlet operates without bias.

Incidentally: Any criticism of the current sitting president does not count as “irrational”. And given how nearly 100,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States partly because the Trump administration continues to fail at putting together anything resembling an actual plan of action beyond “reopen the economy at all costs”, Trump and his cronies have become an existential threat to the United States and its citizens.

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Anonymous Coward says:

I Submit...

… that Twitter is a terrible platform to study the history of the public discussion about COVID19.

Reason: Twitter, like YouTube, Google, etc has taken it upon themselves to be the arbiters about what is allowed to be discussed about COVID19. There will be many valid discussion points not captured in the archives because of this ridiculous "fighting misinformation about COVID" that we’ve allowed corporations to get away without with nary an objection.

When this sad period of history is looked back upon by the historians of subsequent generations, and they reach the conclusion that we utterly destroyed our economy for decades in a vast overreaction to a minor health scare, they’ll wonder "wasn’t there anybody dissenting"?

Because the Internet will have been purged of such "misinformation".

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