Twitter doesn’t reflect how most Americans think: study
Twitter really is an echo chamber.
A tiny fraction of the site’s users are responsible for the lion’s share of tweets — and they tend to be younger, wealthier and more liberal than the national average, according to a Pew Research Center study published Wednesday.
“Twitter users as a group express distinct opinions relative to the public as a whole on some political values, particularly when it comes to views having to do with race, immigration and gender,” researchers wrote.
And they are responsible for an outsized share of messages posted to the platform.
About 22 percent of Americans use Twitter.
And roughly 10 percent of those users are responsible for 80 percent of tweets — meaning just 2 percent of Americans are contributing to a majority of the site’s dialogue, the researchers noted.
The prolific tweeters send out missives about 138 times a month — while most users post just twice monthly, found the study found.
The “tweeple” are also disproportionately women who post regularly about politics, according to Pew.
And of all Americans who lean toward either major political party, 52 percent lean Democrat, while 60 percent of Twitter users lean that way.
Fewer people, meanwhile, lean Republican on the site (35 percent) than in real life (43 percent).
Tweeters are more likely than Americans at large to say that immigrants make the country stronger, by 66-57 percent.
They also believe black people are treated less fairly than white people by 64-54 percent.
And by 62 percent to 56 percent, tweeters believe there are societal barriers that make it more difficult for women to get ahead. And more say they voted in the 2018 midterm elections — 60 percent to 55 percent.
Those views are largely in line with less-prodigious Twitter users — but less so with the rest of the nation, researchers said.
Politics aside, however, the views of “Twitter users are not dramatically different from those expressed by all US adults,” the researchers wrote.
Twitter represents just a thin slice of American demographics. The country is nearly split between people ages 18 to 49 and those 50 and older. But 73 percent of US tweeters are under 50.
According to Pew, Twitter users are more likely to have a college degree than the average American. Forty-two percent of users have that diploma,
compared with 31 percent of US adults. When it comes to wages, 41 percent said they make more than $75,000. Only 32 percent of the general American population makes that much or more.
The study found they were less likely to report being “very attached” to their local community by 12 percent to 17 percent.
Researchers based their findings on a 2018 survey of 2,791 users who agreed to share their Twitter handles with them.