There’s nothing like the imminent threat of losing something you’ve taken for granted – and probably complained about – to make you appreciate what you’ve had all along. With Twitter roiling thanks to Elon Musk’s slash-and-burn management style and the resulting loss of more than half of the company’s employees, many users on the microblogging platform are fearing the worst.

The potential degradation and even loss of Twitter highlights one of the risks of having mercurial billionaires own and control companies whose products have become essential public services. Having the future of public discourse in the social media age on uncertain footing is unsettling.

But while many people are focusing on what Twitter users do on the platform, researchers see another crisis brewing. The enormous number of tweets generated over the past decade or so are a massive trove of data that provides insights into human behavior that can’t be found anywhere else. Michigan State’s Anjana Susarla lays out what researchers like her, and many other Twitter users, stand to lose if the platform were to go under.

This week we also liked stories about math and synchronized fireflies, the recent cryptocurrency meltdown and philanthropy, and the story lines to watch for in the World Cup, which starts tomorrow.

Eric Smalley

Science + Technology Editor

Twitter itself produces a lot of data that’s available nowhere else. STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

What the world would lose with the demise of Twitter: Valuable eyewitness accounts and raw data on human behavior, as well as a habitat for trolls

Anjana Susarla, Michigan State University

If Twitter were to go dark, with it would go a valuable source of data as well as a means of sharing information relied on by activists, journalists, public health officials and scientists.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has lost the fortune he aimed to give away. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for CARE For Special Children

FTX bankruptcy is bad news for the charities that crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried generously supported

Brian Mittendorf, The Ohio State University

The founder of the now-defunct exchange for trading cryptocurrencies believed in ‘earning to give.’

Canadian winds pick up moisture over the Great Lakes, turning it into heavy snowfall on the far shore. NOAA

What is lake-effect snow? A climate scientist explains

Michael A. Rawlins, UMass Amherst

Buffalo is getting socked with a storm expected to dump as much as 5 feet of snow in parts of the region this weekend. Here's how that happens.

The Conversation Quiz 🧠

  • Here’s the first question of this week’s edition:
    "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" celebrates the cultures of ____ in its depiction of the fictional kingdom Talokan.

    1. A. Easter Island
    2. B. Catalhoyuk
    3. C. Mesoamerica
    4. D. Antarctica

    Test your knowledge