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twitter explorer
version python-version license

An interface to explore Twitter data through interactive network visualizations.


The twitter explorer helps computational social scientists to:

  • Collect Twitter data by providing a visual interface for the Twitter Search API (v2 Standard, v2 Academic Research, v1.1 Standard).

  • Transform the collected data into networks: retweet/quote/mention/reply networks capturing different interactions between users and hashtag networks revealing the semantic layer of the debate.

  • Explore these networks interactively by using state-of-the-art graph visualizations.

Quick start

The twitter explorer requires Python ≥ 3.6. If you meet this requirement, open a terminal in your preferred folder to clone the repo and install the required libraries:

$ git clone
$ pip3 install -r requirements.txt

You can now run the collector and the visualizer:

$ streamlit run
$ streamlit run

They will open in a new window and instructions follow.

Getting started

Please refer to the documentation for detailed installation instructions and how to use the twitter explorer.



Data protection

The twitter explorer facilitates the collection of data through the Twitter Search API. Please respect the developer agreement when handling the collected data. Our interface includes a privacy option that allows to remove all accessible metadata of users that have less than 5000 followers (no public figures) from the interactive visualization in order to comply with current privacy standards. By only displaying tweets that still exist at the time of exploration, the interface complies with Twitter's display requirements.

Future development

  • Add progress bar for collector
  • Incorporate dynamics of the retweet networks
  • Add different graph measures

Common errors

Error: StreamlitAPIException due to an outdated version of Streamlit
Fix: pip3 install streamlit --upgrade

Error: AttributeError: module 'google.protobuf.descriptor' has no attribute '_internal_create_key'
Fix: pip3 install protobuf --upgrade

How to cite

Pournaki, A., Gaisbauer, F., Banisch, S., & Olbrich, E. (2021). The Twitter Explorer: A Framework for Observing Twitter through Interactive Networks. Journal of Digital Social Research, 3(1), 106–118.

Related software

  • gazouilloire A command line tool for long-term tweets collection, including the possibility of automatic recursive retrieval within the corpus of all tweets to which collected tweets are answering
  • minet A command line tool for scraping the public Twitter API (among other things). As of v0.4, the minet file format is compatible with the twitter-explorer!
    A tool for streaming real-time tweets and storing them in an SQL database
  • twarc
    Another CLI for Twitter search/streaming API


The idea for the twitter explorer originated from fruitful discussions in the context of the Odycceus project between Armin Pournaki, Felix Gaisbauer, Sven Banisch and Eckehard Olbrich. The tool is designed and developed by Armin Pournaki.


The twitter explorer stands on the shoulders of giants:

  • Streamlit
    The frontends of the collector and visualizer are made with Streamlit, a powerful and easily accessible tool to create interactive Python applications.
  • force-graph
    The interactive graph visualization relies on the force-graph library.
  • igraph
    All the graph operations in the twitter explorer are handled by the Python version of igraph.
  • twarc and tweepy
    Easy-to-use Python wrappers for Twitter APIs.
  • twitwi
    A collection of Twitter-related helper functions for Python.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 732942.


The twitter explorer is licensed under the GNU GPLV3 license.


A framework for observing Twitter through interactive networks.







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