How to Scrape Twitter Data?
The simple, structured format of Twitter and its various posting functions makes it relatively easy to navigate and scrape.
Scraping Twitter can yield many insights into sentiments, opinions and social media trends. Analysing tweets, shares, likes, URLs and interests is a powerful way to derive insight into public conversations.
The Twitter API does allow users to read and write Twitter data. Using the Twitter API instead of scraping Twitter data ensures compliance with Twitter’s terms of service, but it’s not as efficient or flexible as using scraping services.
In fact, a recent study on Twitter scraping found exactly that – the authors concluded that scraping is more efficient and faster than using the API. The API also limits how many tweets you can scrape.
Is Twitter Scraping Allowed?
It’s nearly impossible to determine this with any confidence. In effect, any data considered ‘open source’ can be mined legally, with some caveats. However, social media data can rarely be regarded as open source, which complicates the process of data mining.
Scraping publicly accessible data is generally legal and permitted so long as you obey the robots.txt file. Twitter’s terms forbid non-permitted web scraping; “scraping the Services without the prior consent of Twitter is expressly prohibited,” but breaking these terms is a civil matter, so it isn’t illegal.
Twitter data is scraped all the time and problems are rarely reported, if ever. This doesn’t form the basis of legal justification and merely highlights that the risk is low.
Scraping is a notoriously legal grey area – do your due diligence and research based on your motive and strategy for data mining and use. If you are concerned about legality or compliance then use the Twitter API.
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