Research and data

Ethan Cobb
4 min readDec 14, 2020

Application programming interfaces, also known as APIs, allow users to access resources only available on servers (Miller, 2017). The Twitter API provides the tools needed to contribute to, engage with, and analyse what’s happening on Twitter (Twitter, n.d.).

By using twitter and R Studios Elon Musk’s tweets can be extracted to effectively analyse. To begin with I looked at Musk’s habits when it comes to tweeting, beginning from 2017 to collect a good range of accurate data. Notably Elon Musk more frequently tweets during the months of May, June, and July with a large spike in the summer of 2018. This correlates with the Thailand Cave rescue in which Musk was heavily public with his thoughts and ideas. Musk came under fire after he referred to one of the divers involved in the situation as “pedo-guy” on Twitter. At the time he had deployed experts from Tesla to help design a pod which could help transport those who were stranded (Zhou, 2018).

Sentiment analysis on Musk’s tweets

Through looking at sentiment analysis and research on Elon Musk’s tweets it can be identified that he engages in different ways depending on the subject. Musk is often know for his public quarrels, this makes for the sentiment of anger, disgust and negativity in contrast to when he tweets about his companies of Space X and Tesla in which he tweets in a positive manner.

(Harjanto, 2018)

Musk was also particularly active in May 2018, which saw a copious amount of replies as well as a number of accusations and counter accusations. 2018 was the year Musk’s tweets almost quadrupled, and in May he had tweeted around 400 times. Before this he had an average of 88 tweets going back to 2015. On May 3rd 2018 Musk slammed analysts on an earning call, telling a Sanford Bernstein analyst “Excuse me. Next. Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?” (Helmore, 2018).

(Tweetstats, u.d)

This graph above highlights that 62.17% of Elon Musk’s tweets are replies, which suggests he spends a good amount of time on Twitter, and in that time engages a lot with other users.

(Tweetstats, u.d)

This next graph then presents the type of content Elon Musk promotes by retweeting. Retweets are a community driven action that helps to quickly spread information and discussions across Twitter (Nations, 2020). From looking at the graph we can see that Musk usually and most often retweets tweets from his own companies, SpaceX and Twitter. He uses his platform for promotion and the distribution of information about what his own companies are doing. He also retweets content from technological and educational accounts, connoting that he is using twitter as a means of promoting information.

Ethics of collecting research and data

Traditional research content is often study-specific which means it discloses a great deal of information about the purpose and nature of a particular study (Meyer, 2019).

Privacy harms somewhat differ from data breach harms in that privacy harms don’t often involve data that was compromised, and instead they involve the collection or use of data in a way that someone didn’t consent to.

What is public and what is private?

Open data is the information that can be found on government portals, it’s data that is structured, open licensed and well maintained. Public data is that which exists everywhere else, it is information that is freely available on the web (Wynne-Jones, 2019). Private data would be any personal or personally identifiable financial and sensitive information such as credit card and bank information or usernames and passwords (Law Insider, n.d.). Copyright protects work and stops others from using it without permission.(Gov.UK, n.d.) This opens up discussions about open access when it comes to academic research outputs that can be used for collecting research and data. Academic research outputs have often been subjected to paywalls with subscription only access (Laakso and Polonioli, 2018).


There is a capacity to remain anonymous when posting online internet material which can raise issues about authenticity, especially when users are able to play freely with their identity. Due to the infinite and intricate online information it is often difficult to find and collect relevant data and it can become a time consuming process (UK Data Service, n.d.).



Ethan Cobb

A blog documenting a case study on the social networking and digital media unit on the digital media and communications course.