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MIT thinks your Tweets (and $10 million) can solve society's problems

Twitter is handing MIT full access to its real-time public stream and archive, as well as $10 million (£6.2 million) over five years to help with its research into social patterns across the media. The data MIT gathers from a variety of media platforms will be used to reveal interaction patterns and shared interests between users, while it develops new collaborative tools and mobile apps for public communication and social organisation.

Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter said: "With this investment, Twitter is seizing the opportunity to go deeper into research to understand the role Twitter and other platforms play in the way people communicate, the effect that rapid and fluid communication can have and apply those findings to complex societal issues."

But this isn't the first time Twitter has handed over user data to researchers; earlier in 2014 it handed eight years of data over to the science community. In 2012 Twitter also teamed up with UK business intelligence and analysis outfit Datasift to carry out market research.

MIT say the main goal for its new Twitter funded Laboratory for Social Machines (LSM) will be to create new platforms for individuals and institutions to take action on pressing societal problems. Although funded by Twitter, MIT say LSM will have "complete operational and academic independence." Despite the funding from Twitter, LSM's research will be across many social media and mass media platforms.

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"The Laboratory for Social Machines will experiment in areas of public communication and social organisation where humans and machines collaborate on problems that can't be solved manually or through automation alone," said Deb Roy, Twitter's chief media scientist and an associate professor at MIT who will lead LSM. "Social feedback loops based on analysis of public media and data can be an effective catalyst for increasing accountability and transparency – creating mutual visibility among institutions and individuals."

Image Credit: Flickr (Scott Beale)