Birdwatch aims to create a better informed world, by empowering people on Twitter to collaboratively add helpful notes to Tweets that might be misleading.
Contributors can identify Tweets they believe are misleading, write notes that provide context to the Tweet, and rate the quality of other contributors’ notes. Through consensus from a broad and diverse set of people, our eventual goal is that the most helpful notes will be visible directly on Tweets, available to everyone on Twitter.
See https://twitter.github.io/communitynotes/overview/ for more information on the Birdwatch/Community Notes program.
Given Twitter's volatility and seemingly imminent failure, I have decided to try and preserve this portion of Twitter's history for future research/other purposes. I use a basic python script to download the data that is posted to https://twitter.com/i/birdwatch/download-data on a daily basis. These TSV files are saved into a Google Cloud Storage bucket with public access (download info below)
An additional script then ingests these TSV files into a PostgreSQL database. This database enables sorting, querying, and more efficient use of the data—including displaying it on this website.
Code for the aforementioned scripts are available at https://github.com/bpettis/birdwatch-scraper and released under a GPL-3.0 license. You can also find out more about my design process and ideas for future development in the project's README.
My name is Ben Pettis and I am a PhD candidate in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I study internet culture—with a particular emphasis on the individual user and how their interactions and practices relate to larger platform and corporate entities. As both a user and researcher of the contemporary internet, I have been closely watching Twitter's ongoing collapse in past several months. As part of my dissertation, I am studying how Twitter users reacted to Elon Musk's purchase of the platform and expressed their perceptions of the changing online space in the Birdwatch notes that they wrote.
My dissertation, Becoming Users: Layers of People, Technology, and Power on the Internet, argues that every time that we use the internet, we are called on as Users, a subject position shaped by platforms, corporations, and other institutions. The ways that these stakeholders understand the User differs from how an individual understands their relation to the internet. Each action a person takes throughout their day-to-day experiences of the internet is part of a continual and contested process of becoming—which coalesces in what I describe as the figure of the “becoming-User.” I use discursive interface analysis, critical code studies, and other digital preservation methods to show how people are situated within layers of technology, institutions, and power. Critiquing the ways that individuals are constructed as Users offers a means to imagine a different future for the internet that rejects the dominance of platforms and large corporations as inevitable. The becoming-User provides a multi-faceted perspective on how encounters with the internet are shaped by multiple stakeholders, but while still holding space for their individual autonomy.
Read more about my work at benpettis.com
This is a super early version of this website and project. I'm making this public now given Twitter's current uncertainty and day-to-day instability and in the hopes that this data may prove useful to others. Code optimization, more detailed explanations, and a prettier website are (hopefully) coming soon!