Twitter makes profits, but not just for itself

Passwords composed of a series of numbers are some of the easiest to steal. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON – With every tweet, Twitter is making profits.

Twitter, which has filed for a $1 billion IPO, is making millions of dollars selling data about what you say in 140 characters or less.

Product developers, retailers, Hollywood studios and even investors are interested in the way Twitter can spot trends.

The Wall Street Journal reports the United Nations is using algorithms derived from Twitter to pinpoint locations with social unrest.

DirectTV uses tweets as an early warning system to spot power outages based on customer complaints.

And, of course, human resource departments analyze tweets to evaluate job candidates.

In another example, investors and hedge funds use the data to make their decisions. Minutes after last week’s shooting on Capitol Hill, subscribers to Dataminr — a company that mines social media for valuable information — was alerted to take action and got a leg up on the news that led the S&P 500 to drop by 20 points, according to the The Wall Street Journal.

Companies do say it’s too soon to know the long term value of Twitter data. After all, Twitter accounts can be hacked and used to put out false information.

WTOP’s Veronica Robinson contributed to this report. Follow @VRobWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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