What Your Tweets Tell Us About You: Identity, Ownership and Privacy of Twitter Data


  • Heather Small
  • Kristine Kasianovitz
  • Ronald Blanford
  • Ina Celaya




Social networking sites and other social media have enabled new forms of collaborative communication and participation for users, and created additional value as rich data sets for research. Research based on accessing, mining, and analyzing social media data has risen steadily over the last several years and is increasingly multidisciplinary; researchers from the social sciences, humanities, computer science and other domains have used social media data as the basis of their studies. The broad use of this form of data has implications for how curators address preservation, access and reuse for an audience with divergent disciplinary norms related to privacy, ownership, authenticity and reliability.

In this paper, we explore how the characteristics of the Twitter platform, coupled with an ambiguous and evolving understanding of privacy in networked communication, and divergent disciplinary understandings of the resulting data, combine to create complex issues for curators trying to ensure broad-based and ethical reuse of Twitter data. We provide a case study of a specific data set to illustrate how data curators can engage with the topics and questions raised in the paper. While some initial suggestions are offered to librarians and other information professionals who are beginning to receive social media data from researchers, our larger goal is to stimulate discussion and prompt additional research on the curation and preservation of social media data.






General Articles