Social Media Analytics || Queensland University of Technology.

FutureLearn course: week one.

“…the narratives of decline around the place at the moment that have to do with a certain loss of sociability. And to those of us for whom Twitter’s pleasures were as much to do with ambient intimacy, personal connections and play as they were to do with professional success theatre, celebrity and breaking news, this is a real, felt loss: sociability matters.”

– Jean Burgess, Digital Media Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology.

Some key considerations into the ethics of privacy:

  • Just because we can collect a person’s public tweets on a topic, does that always make it okay to use them?
  • Can we share the data we’ve collected publicly, or with other researchers?
  • Should we treat Twitter users as anonymous research subjects, or as authors who need to be acknowledged?

Key ethical issues/variables:

  • Privacy
  • Confidentiality
  • Vulnerability (i.e. age, disability etc.)
  • Misunderstanding

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are mostly used to support the development of social media applications. APIs provide a way of accessing the social media platform that circumvents the platform’s website and instead connects directly to the underlying infrastructure.

DMI-TCAT (Twitter Capture and Analysis Toolkit) provides robust and reproducible data capture and analysis, and interlinks with existing analytical software. Analytical features are based on two main ideas:

  • Captured datasets can be refined in different ways (search queries, exclusions, date range, etc.) and
  • The resulting selections of tweets can be analysed in various ways, mainly by outputting files in standard formats (CSV for tabular files and GEXF for network files)

Another way of capturing and analysing Twitter data is through TAGS, the Twitter Archiving Google Sheet, developed by Martin Hawksey.

Remember to watch out for misleading data:

  • False positives (posts that match your keywords, but have nothing to do with the topics you’re interested in)
  • False negatives (posts that would be relevant to your interests, but don’t contain any of the words you’ve chosen to track)