Folks 50 and older produce 78% of all political tweets from US adults

By Sam Bestwater, Sono Shah, Gonzalo Rivers0 and Aaron Smith

The Pew Analysis Middle carried out the examine to achieve perception into Twitter customers’ political affiliations, attitudes and conduct on the platform. For this evaluation, we surveyed 2,548 US grownup Twitter customers in Might 2021 about their experiences on the location, in addition to how they have interaction with politics outdoors of Twitter. Everybody taking part on this survey is a member of the middle’s American Traits Panel (ATP) – an internet survey panel recruited by means of a random pattern of nationwide, residential addresses – and indicated that they use Twitter. .

Along with the survey findings, the middle’s researchers additionally examined the precise Twitter profiles of a subset of survey individuals who agreed to share their handles for analysis functions. First, the researchers collected all publicly seen tweets by these customers between Might 2020 and Might 2021. The researchers then used a machine studying classifier to seek out out which of those tweets talked about politics or political ideas. Second, they collected a random pattern of two,859 accounts, adopted by not less than one among these customers – in addition to all accounts adopted by 20 or extra respondents – and manually labeled them into varied fundamental classes based mostly on their profile info. did. For extra details about the completely different strategies used on this evaluation, see Report methodology.

This is an summary of the questions used for the report and its methodology.

Roughly 1 / 4 of American adults use Twitter. And once they do share their views on the location, typically they achieve this about politics and political points. A brand new Pew Analysis Middle evaluation of English-language tweets posted between Might 1, 2020 and Might 31, 2021 by a consultant pattern of US grownup Twitter customers exhibits {that a} third (33%) of these tweets are full. are political in nature. ,

The overwhelming majority of those political tweets are produced by a minority of customers, echoing the Middle’s findings in its earlier research of tweeting behaviour, whether or not political or in any other case. And sure demographic teams are notably lively contributors to the full quantity of political content material on Twitter. Most notably, People age 50 and older make up 24% of the US grownup Twitter inhabitants, however produce about 80% of all political tweets. And 36% of tweets produced by a typical (median) US grownup Twitter consumer age 50 or older contained political content material, which is sort of 5 occasions (7%) for tweets 18- to 49-year-olds.

Broadly talking, those that tweet essentially the most about American politics differ in some ways from these for whom politics is a much less central subject of dialogue. These “high-volume” political tweeters are extra doubtless than different customers to say that they use Twitter to precise their opinion (67% versus 34%); that they discuss politics with others not less than as soon as per week (53% versus 33%); that they contributed to a political marketing campaign within the earlier 12 months (46% vs. 21%); Or that they take part in politics as a result of they get pleasure from it, versus viewing it as a civic obligation (27% versus 14%).

Additionally, a big proportion of those politically vocal customers say that the folks they comply with on Twitter have related political beliefs (45% versus 25%). And regardless of – or maybe despite – their common entry into the world of political tweeting, the individuals who tweet essentially the most about politics are literally low Different customers usually tend to say that Twitter is an efficient technique to get folks to alter their thoughts about political or social points. Simply 34% of essentially the most lively political tweeters really feel this fashion, in comparison with half of those that tweet much less about politics.

The evaluation builds on the Middle’s earlier analysis on political content material on Twitter, which recognized related content material utilizing comparatively strict, keyword-based approaches. For instance, our 2019 politics check on Twitter targeted on discussions of politics on the nationwide stage and the tweets have been labeled as political in nature. Solely In the event that they “point out”[ed] or categorical[ed] Help or opposition to nationwide politicians or elected officers, political events, ideological teams or political establishments, or particular political practices similar to voting.” This definition consists of dialogue of coverage points and present occasions, together with mentions of state or native politics and politicians. which have a political significance however don’t explicitly confer with nationwide political figures or teams.

This new evaluation identifies political content material with extra nuance and subtlety. Researchers on the heart skilled a supervised machine studying classifier on a group of expert-validated tweets that human coders learn and labeled when it comes to political officers and activists, social points, or information and present occasions. This classifier was then capable of study textual patterns and phrases that lead human readers to acknowledge a tweet as “about politics” and to determine patterns in tweets that people had not beforehand coded . With a broader definition and extra versatile categorization of political content material, this evaluation extra broadly displays the vary and variety of political dialogue because it happens on platforms similar to Twitter. Surprisingly given these particular variations, the present evaluation identifies a big proportion of tweets to be of a political nature.

Amongst different key findings from this examination of American adults’ political traits, attitudes, and on-line conduct on Twitter:

Chart showing retweets and quote tweets may refer specifically to politics

Retweets and quote tweets usually tend to include political content material than authentic tweets. This evaluation of a 12 months’s value of tweets from a consultant pattern of US grownup Twitter customers exhibits that some forms of tweets are extra doubtless than others to include political content material. Roughly four-ten of those customers’ retweets (44%) and quote tweets (42%) have been discovered to be associated to politics. However that share drops to 26% for replies – and solely 8% for authentic tweets.

Democrats and Republicans who use Twitter have completely different political experiences on the location. A better proportion of Democrats (political independents who “study” towards both occasion) than Republicans say they’ve tweeted about political or social points within the 30 days previous to the ballot (30% vs. 17%). And a big part of Democrats say Twitter may be very efficient (28% versus 17%) in elevating public consciousness about political or social points.

People from every occasion additionally report seeing quite a lot of political content material on the location. Democrats who use Twitter are twice as doubtless than Republicans to largely comply with accounts with related political views to their very own (40% versus 20%) or that they view some or any of the tweets they see. Disagree with (33% vs 16 %).

However some Twitter behaviors cross occasion traces. Notably, an equal share of Democrats and Republicans on Twitter (17%) say they tweeted in regards to the sport within the 30 days earlier than the ballot.

Chapter showing one in five accounts followed by a large number of American adults are politicians and government figures.

Political figures make up 20% of the inhabitants adopted by numerous American adults. Politicians, authorities figures, public workplaces, and public officers make up simply 1% of all accounts, adopted by this consultant pattern of US grownup Twitter customers. However these entities are way more prevalent among the many most adopted accounts: a whopping 20% ​​of accounts adopted by not less than 20 particular person respondents fall into this class. Media organizations and journalists, in addition to coverage or advocacy organizations, are notably extra prevalent in accounts which can be extensively adopted by American adults on Twitter.

“Twitter-only” political affiliations are comparatively uncommon. The middle’s survey requested in regards to the various kinds of political behaviors that customers can take each on Twitter (similar to tweeting a couple of political or social problem) and off (similar to voting or contributing cash to a marketing campaign). Most Twitter customers have been concerned in not less than one among these actions previously 12 months. By far the biggest share – 58% – engaged on Twitter and elsewhere, and one other 34% participated in non-Twitter efforts solely. Solely 3% of US grownup Twitter customers say they took some sort of political or civil motion on Twitter previously 12 months, however didn’t achieve this outdoors the platform.

Customers say that political content material makes up a much bigger a part of what they see than what they submit. About 41% of US grownup Twitter customers say that all the pieces they see on Twitter is expounded to political or social points. However simply 12% say that all the pieces they submit themselves is expounded to those subjects.

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