During the heat of the election, the Pew Research Center put out a fascinating report that described the differences between Democrats and Republicans who used Twitter. A study of U.S. Twitter users conducted between November 11, 2019 and September 14, 2020 showed a very small minority of users create the vast majority of tweets that among U.S. adults.
“Just 10% of [Twitter] users produced 92% of all tweets from US adults since last November, and 69% of these highly prolific users identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents.”
Social media platforms are now a part of American elections, and have a great deal of influence on the “buzz” created every day that ends up as news stories on cable news stations, radio talk shows and topics for podcasts. Twitter is a favorite of news reporters, lobbyists, political insiders, and anyone else who wants to be up-to-the-minute on the latest political story, quote, poll, ad or gaffe. The 2020 election was rife with accusations of manipulation by social media platform managers. Facebook, Twitter and other mediums have been said to censor information, and refuse and restrict the selling of ads to certain groups seeking to purchase advertising.
The Pew report, however, focuses on an area of political life that influences what people listen to and absorb each day as truth. The sources people use to get their news become their reality – their worldview. The nature of Twitter is that people can choose who they “follow,” and the follower more than likely knows what to expect ideologically or politically from whoever they’re following.
The report showed that most U.S. adults on Twitter post “only rarely.” It stated that Pew analyses of who tweets consistently shows that Twitter is used by more Democrats than Republicans, and that “the 10% most active Democrats typically produce roughly twice as many tweets in a month (157) as the 10% most active Republicans (79).”
When it comes to ideology, the study revealed “although nearly identical shares of Republican Twitter users (60%) and non-users (62%) describe themselves as very or somewhat conservative, Democrats who use Twitter tend to be more liberal than non-users.”
As our sources of news and information get more diverse and fuzzy, sometimes it’s good to have a sense of where these sources lie on the political spectrum. It’s becoming more clear that it’s a full-time job finding sources you can trust.