Scrape Twitter the Right Way! | Get Valuable Insights Into Public Opinions

Twitter has a small structured format that makes it straightforward to scrap. You can scrape twitter to get user sentiments, trends, and opinions.

Extracting and manipulating data from tweets will help you gain valuable insights into public conversations.

According to Twitter's terms of service, you can use the Twitter API to read and write Twitter data instead of scraping. However, using the API isn't as effective as scraping. Scraping is faster and more effective in data extraction. Using the Twitter API also limits the number of tweets you can scrape.

So, can you scrape Twitter? What data can you get from the fast-moving website, and how easy is it to scrape the data?

Twitter icons on the large screen

How Can You Scrape Twitter Data?

Twitter is a platform that allows users to express their thoughts and engage in discussions. Businesses use social media platforms for advertising their products, and politicians can also reach their supporters.

Tweets can help you study market trends, and you can check various insights regarding current affairs. Law enforcement agencies can scrape tweets to uncover illicit activities.

Before you can start scraping tweets, it'll be helpful to find out whether Twitter allows web scraping. If not sure, you can use Twitter's API access.

The social media platform offers a lot of data that you can use for other purposes. A single tweet by a Twitter user can give information such as:

  • The total clicks on a Twitter account

  • Specific Twitter user's tweets

  • The number of people who saw the tweet

  • The demographics of Twitter users who liked or retweeted the tweet

welcome to Twitter page on the notebook

What is the Twitter API?

The Twitter API is a valuable resource for developers as it offers access to the platform that underlies Twitter. The API can help you:

  • Read profiles

  • Compose tweets

  • Access data regarding your followers

  • Access Twitter data points, including Entities, Tweets, Places, and Users

However, web scraping can help you do more than Twitter's API. Creating a web scraper will help you carry out various tasks by creating a fake Twitter API. The unofficial Twitter API has several benefits, including:

  • You can scrape data without limitations

  • You may not require a Twitter account

  • You may not require an API key or registered app

twitter icon on the laptop screen

What Type of Data Can You Scrape From Twitter?

Before you can start scraping the social media platform, it'll be helpful to find out the legality of the process. Using a legitimate scraping service doesn't mean the process is legal. Ensure you do due diligence to ensure the process is compliant.

Additionally, you should ensure the scraped data isn't protected by copyright laws and other regulations.

If you want to scrape Twitter to extract compliant and legal data, you can scrape the following fields:

  • Favorite

  • Handle

  • Content

  • Date

  • Retweets

  • Replies

  • Hashtags

  • Name

  • URL

How Do You Input URLs and Download Twitter Data?

There are various ways you can use it to input Twitter URLs.

For instance, you can go to the Twitter Advanced Search function to get the target input URL. You can use various parameters to filter the information, including keywords, people, and dates. You can also filter the tweets above or below a particular threshold of retweets.

You can also get the target URL from a tweet ID or hashtag.

How to Scrape Tweets From Twitter

As mentioned earlier, Twitter is a fast-moving website. You should look for a web scraper that can deal with dynamic content, such as ParseHub or Selenium by Python.

If you choose the ParseHub free web scraper, you should start by downloading it on your device for free. Next, choose the Twitter handle that you want to scrap.

After downloading the scraper, you should launch it and then grab the user profile URL that you want to scrape. Go to the web scraper, click on a new project and enter the user profile's URL.

The user profile will render fully in the web scraper, and you can start extracting tweet information.

twitter digital icon

Setting Up a New Project

  • To set up a new project, you should start by clicking the first tweet in the timeline. You can also click on the username on the second tweet to ensure all the tweets are selected. Proceed to rename the selections tweets

  • The web scraper will help you pull the user profile's URL and the username of each tweet. You can expand the selection to remove the URL and get rid of the extract command. You can rename the selection to Name

  • Next, go to the Relative Select command using the PLUS (+) sign you see next to the tweet command

  • Using the Relative Select command, click on the username of the first tweet and go to the tweet's date. You should use the Ctrl+1 option to help you select the entire date and then click on it. If you use a Mac, use Cmnd+1 to select the entire date. You can rename your new selection as Date

  • Next, you should expand the date selection and go to the first extract command. You'll get a dropdown menu. Go to the "title Attribute" and rename the selections accordingly

  • Next to the tweet selection option, click on the plus sign and go to the relative command. Click on the username on the tweet first and later the tweet text. You can rename the selection as text

  • You can extract the tweet's media link or any other information you need using the previous step

With that process, the web scraper is ready to extract information from the tweets on the particular page.

white button with blue Twitter icon

Twitter uses the infinite scroll to load more tweets. Therefore, you need to instruct the ParseHub web scraper to delete the previous tweets and load the new ones. The process helps to prevent overload on the page size. You can use the following steps to set up the infinite scroll:

  • Go to the page selection and click on the PLUS sign. You can rename your selection to listing_value and use digit 0 to replace the $location.href expression

  • Go to the command list and drop the new extract command on top of the tweet select command

  • Next to the tweet selection is an icon. Use the icon to expand all the selection commands. Next, hover over the selection and hold the SHIFT key. The process will make the PLUS (+) sign pop up. Select an extract command using the PLUS sign

  • You can rename the extract command as remove. On the dropdown menu, go to "Delete an element from page"

  • Use the instructions you used in step 3 to create a new extract command that you can name listing_value. Go to the command settings and replace the $location.href with digit 1

  • Next, go to the page selection and click the Plus (+) sign to add a Conditional command. you can edit the command's expression to listing value

  • Use the PLUS sign to add a select command on the new conditional command you've created. Next, select the website's section that has all the tweets on the timeline. you can rename the selection to timeline

  • Expand the timeline selection and remove the extract command. Use the PLUS sign to add a scroll command. You should also use the PLUS sign to add a Go To Template command. accept the pop up that appears with its default settings

  • Click the three dots on the left sidebar and untick "No Duplicates"

After collecting your data, you can save it in a JSON file or database. You can use it for data analysis which can help you make an informed decision.

a person typing on laptop

Conclusion

Scraping Twitter can help you gain useful insights regarding user sentiments and trends. Twitter's API helps you access the information you need from the tweets. Although it's not entirely illegal to scrape public data, you should be careful that copyright laws don't protect the data you scrape. Twitter's terms of service prohibit web scraping without prior consent.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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