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1. Introduction: Hacking on Twitter Data > Collecting and Manipulating Twitter ...

Collecting and Manipulating Twitter Data

In the extremely unlikely event that you don’t know much about Twitter yet, it’s a real-time, highly social microblogging service that allows you to post short messages of 140 characters or less; these messages are called tweets. Unlike social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, where a connection is bidirectional, Twitter has an asymmetric network infrastructure of “friends” and “followers.” Assuming you have a Twitter account, your friends are the accounts that you are following and your followers are the accounts that are following you. While you can choose to follow all of the users who are following you, this generally doesn’t happen because you only want your Home Timeline[6] to include tweets from accounts whose content you find interesting. Twitter is an important phenomenon from the standpoint of its incredibly high number of users, as well as its use as a marketing device and emerging use as a transport layer for third-party messaging services. It offers an extensive collection of APIs, and although you can use a lot of the APIs without registering, it’s much more interesting to build up and mine your own network. Take a moment to review Twitter’s liberal terms of service, API documentation, and API rules, which allow you to do just about anything you could reasonably expect to do with Twitter data before doing any heavy-duty development. The rest of this book assumes that you have a Twitter account and enough friends/followers that you have data to mine.


  

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