Enabling study of the public conversation in a time of crisis

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Public conversation can help the world learn faster, solve problems better and realize we’re all in this together. Facing a devastating global pandemic really brings that, and Twitter’s role, to light.

Jack Dorsey

CEO, Twitter


UPDATE: The deadline to apply for the COVID-19 stream is October 15, 2020. Access for everyone who is already approved for this stream will remain free and unchanged.

To further support Twitter’s ongoing efforts to protect the public conversation, and help people find authoritative health information around COVID-19, we’re releasing a new endpoint into Twitter Developer Labs to enable approved developers and researchers to study the public conversation about COVID-19 in real-time.

This is a unique dataset that covers many tens of millions of Tweets daily and offers insight into the evolving global public conversation surrounding an unprecedented crisis. Making this access available for free is one of the most unique and valuable things Twitter can do as the world comes together to protect our communities and seek answers to pressing challenges. 

The conversations happening on Twitter are highly insightful and have the potential to help the world better understand the COVID-19 pandemic and ultimately contribute to making Twitter, and the world, a better place through use cases like: 

  • Researching the spread of the disease
  • Understanding the spread of misinformation
  • Crisis management, emergency response, and communication within communities
  • Developing machine learning and data tools that can help the scientific community answer key questions about COVID-19
  • And many others that we’ll look to our community to help us understand

The COVID-19 stream endpoint provides access to COVID-19 and Coronavirus related public Tweets in real-time as defined by the criteria used to power this topic on Twitter. You can read more about what is and is not included in this endpoint in our forum post, as well as guidance on how to use it and how to create supplemental parameters for unique COVID-19 research cases. 

The scale of the dataset requires prior experience working with Twitter data and having the necessary infrastructure in place to process, store, and analyze the many millions of Tweets being generated every day. Given the expertise and computational resources necessary to handle this data, and recognizing the sensitivity of it, we’ve created a dedicated application to access this endpoint and plan to carefully review access requests to ensure they support the public good. We also encourage applicants to describe in detail the safeguards they intend to implement to protect the privacy and safety of people represented in these data, including applicable institutional reviews and ethics screenings.

We’ll do our best to review applications in a timely manner, however, we can not guarantee immediate response and will prioritize applications from researchers and developers with established expertise and resources to work with this data. We appreciate your patience with us as we try something new.

In addition to having an approved developer account, developers must apply for and be accepted for approved access to this endpoint, and adhere to the terms of our Developer Agreement and Policy. Our terms provide guidance about restricted use cases relevant to projects analyzing health-related topics. To ensure this data can be kept in compliance, access to the COVID-19 stream endpoint will be accompanied by a new compliance stream endpoint (available upon approval). Documentation can be found on our developer website.

We know our developer community is full of inspiring ideas that may help the world learn from and improve our collective understanding of and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We welcome your questions, feedback, and discussions on how Twitter data can support your work. Researchers can share knowledge or request feedback related to the study of this topic from fellow researchers in the Twitter developer community on our academic research forum

We look forward to seeing what people build with this endpoint and continue to explore new ways to support developers and researchers who want to better understand and respond to the COVID-19 conversation happening on Twitter in support of the public good.


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