Twitter opening up access to historical data in name of research

It's not all about making money for Twitter -- at least not in the short term when it comes to data.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

With a rate of more than 500 million Tweets published each day, needless to say Twitter has a lot of data up for grabs that would be fruitful for many reasons, whether it be for business or academic purposes.

The San Francisco-headquartered company has been focusing on the former for some time now, drumming up plenty of different schemes revolving around digital advertising and insights for corporate users and brands.

Now the social network is opening up its vast treasure trove in the name of education.

On Wednesday, Twitter introduced a new pilot program dubbed Twitter Data Grants in which the social network will open up access to its public and historical data to a limited pool of research institutions.

Raffi Krikorian, vice president of platform engineering at Twitter, offered some examples as to potential (or hoped for) results from this program, such as "health-related information such as when and where the flu may hit."

Twitter hasn't specified how many research institutions will be privy to the information, except to specify the company will be selecting a small number of proposals to receive free datasets," which will be doled out and managed by certified data reseller partner Gnip.

Interested parties need to submit their proposals no later than March 15.

It's been a big day for Twitter with its first earnings report as a public company published earlier on Wednesday.

The micro-blogging service reported a fourth quarter net loss of $511 million, or $1.41 per share (statement). Yet non-GAAP earnings were two cents per share on a revenue of $243 million.

Wall Street was actually expecting a loss at two cents per share and revenue of $217.82 million.

Despite the blowout results when lined up with analyst expectations, shares plummeted anyway in after-hours trading. That's been attributed to slower growth in lining up more monthly active users.

Twitter ended the quarter with 241 million monthly active users as of December 31, a 30 percent uptick year-over-year. Mobile monthly active users jumped by 37 percent annually to 184 million.

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