Twitter Found Not To Reflect General Opinion

"twitter opinion"New research has found that while Twitter has become a great place to find out what people are saying about a subject it actually generally does not reflect the opinion of the general public.

Research from the Pew Research Chamber has found that often what Twitter users are tweeting about is not in line with general opinion, especially when it comes to politics according to a report by CNN.

The overall findings saw that Twitter can be both more liberal and more conservative about a subject but that it is almost always more negative.

The report says: “Overall, the reaction to political events on Twitter reflects a combination of the unique profile of active Twitter users and the extent to which events engage different communities and draw the comments of active users.

“While this provides an interesting look into how communities of interest respond to different circumstances, it does not reliably correlate with the overall reaction of adults nationwide.”

The Pew research Chamber looked at Twitter use and tweets over a year with focus on political events such as the 2012 US election.

The study found that when President Obama was re-elected public opinion polls showed that 52% of people were found to be happy about the result and 45% were unhappy while on Twitter 77% of tweets were positive about the results while 23% were found to be negative.  This shows a huge disparity between the views of Twitter users and that of the general public.

What may be making the difference to the statistics could well be down to the type of people who are using Twitter most.

The research from Pew found that Twitter users are generally younger and more likely to be Democratic in their political bias.  However those on Twitter are not all liberal in their political views and this was reflected when looking at how many people thought that Obama was doing a good job with 48% of those in opinion polls saying yes but only 13% of Tweets echoing this.

Pew have put down the results from Twitter as being indicative of the form of social media itself.  An opinion poll asks lots of general questions to a selected group pf people whole on Twitter people only tend to tweet when they feel strongly about something with very few people taking to Twitter to say they are content about a situation.

Twitter has fast become a source of public opinion for the media with many news articles quoting Tweets as examples of public opinion, however it seems that in the future journalists may need to tread carefully when using Twitter to reflect public opinion.




avatar DSM Publishing is owned and operated by husband and wife team . They are also the founder and editor of the Affordable Internet Marketing Course and several other publications. Learn more about them here and connect with them on Twitter and Facebook also on Google+

1 comment… add one

  • avatar

    Gail Trahd March 5, 2013, 6:04 pm

    Good to see the results of this research here – and probably can extrapolate that to any other means of gathering “public opinion” in which only a select group of people are being polled. Not everyone uses Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social media sites. Each of these has their own ‘normal’ user profile that leaves out a large number of voting adults.

    And, as marketers, we can probably do our own extrapolation and head to the watering holes where our own potential readers and customers are hanging out :)


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