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Platform-controlled social media APIs threaten open science

Social media data enable insights into human behaviour. Researchers can access these data via platform-provided application programming interfaces (APIs), but these come with restrictive usage terms that mean studies cannot be reproduced or replicated. Platform-owned APIs hinder access, transparency and scientific knowledge.

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Fig. 1: Accessing SM data.


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B.I.D. conceptualized the work; B.I.D., D.W., D.R., J.H. and D.A.P. wrote the original draft; B.I.D., D.R., D.A.P., D.W., E.G., J.F.R., J.H., D.v.d.L., A.G.C. and L.A reviewed and edited all later versions of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Brittany I. Davidson.

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Competing interests

This work was part-funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC grant ref: EP/W522090/1) as a PhD studentship to D.W. as an EPSRC iCASE with B.I.D. and J.F.R. This work also was part-funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC grant ref: EP/SO22465/1) as a PhD studentship to E.G. via the CDT in Cybersecurity TIPS-at-scale. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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Nature Human Behaviour thanks Cornelius Puschmann, Amelia Acker and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Davidson, B.I., Wischerath, D., Racek, D. et al. Platform-controlled social media APIs threaten open science. Nat Hum Behav 7, 2054–2057 (2023).

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