Twitter Inc Funds MIT Lab To Research Online Social Movements

Twitter Inc (NASDAQ:TWTR) is investing $10 million to design platforms for online collaboration by people on civic and political issues, according to an announcement from MIT. The micro-blogging website made a deal with MIT Media Lab, which has a cutting-edge Laboratory for Social Machines (LSM).

Gnip to provide data for research

According to MIT, it will have access to Twitter’s real-time public stream of tweets, as well as archives dating back to the first tweet on the social network. It said that the lab will identify the possibilities of social network “to remake the public sphere” by providing tools for institutions and individuals to come together on a social platform.

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Gnip, a data analysis provider acquired by Twitter in April, will fetch data from the micro-blogging site. Gnip analyzes and sells data to the clients, and is known as “firehose” of Twitter data. MIT will use the data to identify the tweets for patterns and connections using techniques such as large-scale analysis of content in the real-world contexts and investigating interaction patterns in relevant social systems.

Deb Roy, an associate professor at the Media Lab and Twitter’s chief media scientist, will lead the LSM. Roy said that LSM will work in the areas of public communication and social organization with the close collaboration of humans and machines.

Twitter has been sharing data for projects

Twitter Inc (NASDAQ:TWTR) started offering data to a selected number of institutions under a project called Twitter Data Grants back in February. Aside from this project, the company has funded other projects such as surveillance of food-borne gastrointestinal illness using Twitter data and the study of the effectiveness of campaigns on the social network for the early detection of cancer. Twitter made an announcement in April that it is providing its data to six institutions on four continents, including the University of Twente in the Netherlands, the University of East London in the U.K., and National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Japan.

The MIT research team will track how movements are triggered by better understanding the patterns in which information spreads on Twitter. The company will invest $10 million over a five-year period. MIT will enjoy operational and academic independence in its research. In the research, students and staff will investigate  various social media and mass media platforms including Twitter.