Twitter echo chamber? 10% of US users generate 80% of tweets

Social media often treated as the global digital town square, but how representative is it?

When we want to read the thoughts of celebrities, politicians and other public personalities, Twitter has become the platform of choice for this as well as breaking news and lively debates. Twitter is often treated as the global digital town square but how representative is it?

Based on a survey of almost 3,000 US Twitter users, the Pew Research Centre found that – of the 22 per cent of American adults who use the social networking platform – most users (90 per cent) rarely tweet while the other 10 per cent account for a huge chunk (80 per cent) of content, generating a median of 138 tweets per month.

Twitter users in general differ slightly from the general US population in that they are on average younger, more likely to be Democrats, and more likely to hold a batchelor’s degree. These top 10 per cent of active Twitter users, however, have a distinctive profile: they are more likely to be female, more likely to tweet about political issues, and more likely than other users to agree that immigration strengthens American society and that gender inequality is still a significant issue.

Although these differences paint a picture of a liberal Twitter, that does not represent the average American. Pew said “the views of Twitter users are not dramatically different from those expressed by all US adults”.