Despite Twitter’s reputation as a political hotbed, most U.S. adults don’t use political language in their bios, though Democrats, people who tweet often and people with many followers were among the most likely to do so, according to data published Thursday by Pew Research Center.
The Key Facts
Pew discovered that only 6% of Americans use Twitter to express their political views. This includes 7% of Democrats, Democratic-leaning Independents, and 2% Republicans, and independents who are Republican-leaning.
This confirmed data suggesting that most political content on Twitter comes from a small group of users—a 2018-2019 Pew survey of tweets by U.S. adults found that 97% of tweets mentioning national politics came from just 10% of users, while nearly two-thirds of users didn’t tweet about national politics even once.
Thursday’s survey found that users who averaged 20 or more tweets a month were about six times more likely to mention politics on their profiles than users who tweeted less often, reinforcing previous findings that frequent tweeters are more politically engaged on the site than less frequent tweeters.
Pew discovered that users in the top 25 percent of followers were eight times more likely than others to include politics in their profile, twice as likely as to list occupations, and four times more likely as to identify their employers, than those with less followers.
The majority of twitter users mention their personal information more than their political views. For example, 23% refer to their jobs and 12% cite their hobbies and interest. 8% also mentioned family.
Pew analysed data from 1,021 valid, active Twitter accounts who had previously participated in an earlier Pew survey on January 31.
The Key Background
Critics on the left have often accused Twitter of discrimination in politics. In 2018, then Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey conceded most Twitter employees leaned leftward, but insisted this did not influence how they applied the company’s policies. Parler and Gab are right-wing Twitter alternatives. However, they remain marginal relative to Twitter’s 229,000,000 active users. Twitter’s most prominent right-wing challenger is Donald Trump’s “censorship-free” Truth Social, which became the most downloaded free app on Apple’s App Store despite being plagued with glitches and fake accounts. Elon Musk’s proposed $44 billion purchase of Twitter has been popularly viewed as a win for the right, as Musk has accusedPlatform for Suppressing Free Speech
Twitter’s internal research suggests its algorithms tend to promote content from right-wing politicians and media outlets over content from left-wing sources. Yale, University of Exeter, and MIT researchers found that while Republicans are four times more likely that they will be removed from Twitter than Democrats were, Republicans were more likely than Democrats that they would post misleading information. violate the platform’s content guidelines. This study was not peer reviewed and did not uncover evidence of Twitter bias.
Mentioning preferred pronouns such as “she/her” and “he/him” in Twitter bios was rare among all groups, but more common among Democrats. Pew found that 4% of U.S. adults mentioned pronouns, including 6% of Democrats but none of the Republicans included in Pew’s 1,021-account sample.
“#ArrestTrumpNow Trending On Twitter – Is This Rhetoric Bad For Democracy?” (SME)