Today, millions of Americans use Twitter to break and comment on news, disseminate official pronouncements, organize campaigns and protests or just let their friends know what’s on their minds.
Here are 10 facts about Americans and Twitter, based on recent Pew Research Center surveys and other studies:
1Around one-in-five U.S. adults (22%) say they use Twitter, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center survey. The share of Americans who use the platform has remained consistent over the past several years and is similar to the share who use Snapchat (24%) and WhatsApp (20%). But a much larger share of U.S. adults use YouTube (73%) and Facebook (69%).
2Twitter users tend to be younger and to have more education and higher incomes than U.S. adults overall, according to a late 2018 survey. While Americans overall are about equally divided between those ages 18 to 49 and those 50 and older, U.S. adults on Twitter are nearly three times as likely to be younger than 50 as to be 50 and older (73% vs. 27%). Overall, 42% of U.S. adult Twitter users have at least a college degree, compared with 31% of all Americans. And 41% of adult Twitter users earn at least $75,000 a year, compared with 32% of all American adults.
3Twitter users in the U.S. are more likely than U.S. adults overall to identify as Democrats and less likely to say they are very conservative. Six-in-ten adults on Twitter say they are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party, compared with 52% of all Americans, according to the late 2018 survey. And on an 11-point scale ranging from 0 (“very conservative”) to 10 (“very liberal”), only 14% of adult Twitter users in the U.S. place themselves between 0 and 2, compared with one-in-four Americans overall.
4Twitter stands out as one of the social media sites with the most news-focused users. Around seven-in-ten adult Twitter users in the U.S. (71%) get news on the site, according to a summer 2018 survey. But because a relatively small share of Americans use Twitter in the first place, that means that fewer than one-in-five U.S. adults get news from the site.
News organizations can play a central role in the content that gets shared on Twitter, a January 2018 Pew Research Center report found. These organizations play a larger role on Twitter than other types of content providers, such as commentary or government sites, when it comes to one contentious issue in the news – immigration.
5Most U.S adult Twitter users don’t tweet very often. A large majority of tweets come from a small minority of users. The median Twitter user produces two tweets per month, according to a 2019 study. However, among the most prolific tweeters – defined as those in the top 10% in the number of tweets they send – the median user produces 138 tweets each month. And that group of highly prolific tweeters dominates discourse on the platform more broadly: 80% of all tweets from American adults come from the top 10% of tweeters.
6While Twitter is mostly a public-facing platform, 13% of its adult users in the U.S. keep their accounts private, a July 2019 analysis found. Users who opt not to post tweets publicly are more likely to be women and more active when it comes to creating and favoriting tweets. But there are otherwise few demographic differences between users with public and private accounts.
7Overall, 42% of U.S. adults on Twitter say they use the site to discuss politics at least some of the time. But the most frequent tweeters do so much more often than other Twitter users. Among the most prolific top 10% of tweeters, 42% say they have tweeted about politics within the past 30 days, compared with just 13% for all other U.S. adults on the site.
8U.S. political leaders have a sizable following among Americans who are on the platform. Among U.S adults with public Twitter accounts, 19% follow President Donald Trump, while 26% follow former President Barack Obama. Overall, 21% follow at least one member of Congress, with 17% following a Democratic legislator and 8% following a Republican member.
9About half of U.S. adults who follow Donald Trump on Twitter (54%) view him favorably, compared with just 24% of adult Twitter users who don’t follow the president, according to an analysis based on data from late 2018.
10Many of the links shared on Twitter come from automated accounts, or bots. The Center’s 2017 examination of all tweets (not just those from U.S. adults) found that 66% of links to popular websites came from accounts that are likely bots. The share was even higher for several kinds of links, including those that led to adult content (90%) and sports content (76%).