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Social Media Data and Tools

A guide discussing how to acquire, extract, and use social media data and tools

Starting February 13, 2023, Twitter will no longer support free access to the Twitter API (v1.1. and v2). See the Twitter Dev team's February 2 announcement and their February 8 update. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

About Twitter Data

Accessing Twitter data for analysis depends on your question and time period.

  • For Twitter searches (keyword or hashtag), data older than seven days cannot be retrieved without paying a fee.
  • You can collect data going forward in time.
  • If you need to extract tweets from an account, you can collect data going back and going forward in time.

Twitter's Developer Agreement and Policy has details about what you can do with the data.

Read Where to Get Twitter Data for Academic Research, a guide written by the creators of Social Feed Manager at George Washington University Libraries, for more options for accessing Twitter data. 

Accessing Twitter Data

There are two ways to access Twitter data:

1. Work with existing Twitter datasets. 

  • Most Twitter datasets you download from a collection set will be a spreadsheet that contains only the tweet IDs. You will need to "hydrate" these IDs using the Hydrator desktop application to connect them to the original tweet. Go through Programming Historian's tutorial Beginner's Guide to Twitter Data to understand the process of accessing and hydrating tweets. 
  • Tweet ID Data Sets curated by Documenting the Now
    • The DocNow Catalog is a collectively curated listing of Twitter datasets.
    • Public datasets are shared as Tweet IDs, which can be hydrated back into full datasets using the Hydrator desktop application.
  • TweetSets from GW Libraries
    • TweetSets are Twitter datasets for research and archiving. TweetSets allows researchers to create data queries from existing Twitter datasets created by the TweetSets team.  
    • See their step-by-step guide to TweetSets. 

2. Apply for a Twitter developer account to get an API key to extract data directly. This is more time-consuming because you need to fill out a detailed application and wait for Twitter to get back to you. It is not guaranteed that Twitter will approve your application. 

  • Twitter for academic research
    • You can apply for academic research access if you are: a master's or doctoral student, post-doc, faculty, or research employee at GMU; have a clearly defined research objective; and will access the data for non-commercial purposes. 
    • Read more about eligibility, specifics on the data available, and use cases on their developer platform.  
    • See their tools and guides to support your work. 
  • Essential access to the Twitter API
    • Allows users to get started quickly, test, and build across all endpoints. Not all Twitter users will be eligible for essential access. You have to fill out an application and then Twitter will review your application and either approve or reject it.