The 2016 elections in the United States began an important conversation about how algorithms and social networks generate a perception of reality that is very far from the true political and social life of a country.
“41% of Twitter users surveyed by Pew Research reported that their income exceeded $ 75,000 per year.”
In this sense, we began to identify this as a bubble effect, where users are locked in interfaces that share and disseminate their line of thought.
However, it was not until now that science has been able to demonstrate the functioning of this bubble phenomenon. And is that the Pew Research Center, an independent research center, has made a comparative study between Twitter users and the average American citizen.
To do the research, Pew Research surveyed 2,791 adult Twitter users on issues related to their salary, education, ideology and also on specific issues such as racism and immigration.
In addition, during the surveys, participants gave their user names on Twitter, which were used to compare respondents for the number of tweets they produced.
The conclusion obtained by Stefan Wojcik and Adam Hughes, co-authors of the study, was that in most cases Twitter users had an educational and economic level higher than the rest of the country. In addition, the study also showed that users are usually younger than the average of Americans and that, in general, their ideology is of the left.
According to Pew Research surveys, almost three-quarters of Twitter users are under 49, compared to 54% of the US population.
Of the subjects interviewed, 42% have graduated from the university, compared to 31% of the citizens. And together with this, 41% of Twitter users surveyed indicated that their income was more than $ 75,000 per year, compared to 32% of Americans who earn the same amount.
Another point to highlight in the surveys is the inclusion of a barometer of conservatism. In this sense, the Phew researchers asked users to be placed on a scale of 11 points where 0 represented the conservatives and 10 the liberals. The results showed that only 14% of the respondents were between 0 and 2, a figure that rises to 25% when asked to the general population.
This question responds to one of the first questions that emerged on Twitter with the theme of the ideological bubble and is that, being on a platform of progressive majority, it is more likely that users find other people who share their political preferences.
Coupled with this, when asked about it, most Twitter users affirmed that African-Americans and women were treated unequally, as well as affirming that immigrants helped the country’s development. This positioning is opposed, to a large extent, to the one that most Americans possess, which consider these claims to be false.
One of the most relevant results thrown by the research is that 10% of Twitter users produce 80% of the tweets that circulate in the application. Of these twitterers, 65% are women and 69% have declared to have written tweets about politics.
The results of Pew Research show that much of the content circulating on Twitter, especially in political matters, is attributed to a very limited number of users, who generally share the same political ideology and line of thought, which makes the platform a very limited space for disseminating ideas.
In addition, beyond the general perspective of the social network, other platforms already exceed it considerably in number of users. Snapchat, for example, already exceeds Twitter by 40% of active daily users, which takes some representation from the social network of the bird.