Study finds what Twitter majority says doesn’t reflect popular opinion

reverse twitter birds

As much as it’s assumed that Twitter is indicative of popular opinion, a year-long Pew study says otherwise.

twitter liberalComparing the “tone” of tweets with polls around major national events, the study concludes that while conversations on Twitter hit both the liberal and conservative tones, “it’s often the negativity that stands out.” The study makes side by side comparisons of opinions around events like President Obama’s reelection or the dealings leading up to the election.

For instance, positive Twitter reactions that didn’t match up with public opinion include the federal government’s ruling that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional (the gay marriage ban). 46 percent of Twitter users expressed favorable opinions in the ruling’s wake, while 8 percent expressed negative sentiments. In reality, 44 percent of the public felt the government’s ruling over Prop 8 was disappointing, while only 33 percent of those polled were “happy” with the decision.

Along the same vein, Twitter was effusive about Obama’s reelection. If you’re on Twitter, or on the Internet for that matter, you might remember Obama’s very succinct victory tweet that smashed Twitter records. 77 percent of comments were positive and 23 percent negative, post-election. The public opinion’s sentiments on Obama’s reelection once again weren’t so clear cut, though. Just 52 percent were happy, while 45 percent expressed negative sentiments.

twitter toneThere are two reasons that might best explain the difference in reactions. First, Twitter users can be comparatively younger than the over-18 demographic pollsters target, so there’s a wider range of ages are commenting on Twitter. At the same time, Twitter users are selective about the topics they weigh in on, which was tracked by looking at the volume of tweets related to the event.

“In the two days following Obama’s re-election on Nov. 6, there were nearly 14 million Tweets from people expressing their reaction. And more than five million expressed their reactions to the first presidential debate. But other events, particularly the federal court ruling on same sex marriage in California last February and Obama’s nomination of John Kerry in December, drew a much lower volume of tweets,” the report says.

Twitter continues to spin itself as the barometer of thoughts, a national pulse taker – but clearly, there’s a discrepancy here. It’s a nice reminder to everyone putting ample stock in the predictive abilities of social media: While this data is valuable, you might not want to discard all other research avenues quite yet. 

Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Social Media

Instagram’s new Close Friends List lets you decide who should see your Story

Have a story to share, but don't want to send it to everyone? Instagram now offers a close friends list that will allow users to share stories with only the users included on that list.
Social Media

Survey of teens says social media lets them connect with friends and get support

A survey of teenagers shows the ways that social media sites can be beneficial to them, like feeling more connected to their friends, the ability to interact with different people, and as a venue to get support when they are struggling.
Social Media

Hotel chain offers an Instagram ‘sitter’ who will post photos for you

If the pressure to post stunning Instagram photos is ruining your vacations, then how about hiring a local Instagram influencer to do the job for you while you go off and enjoy yourself? Well, such a service now exists.
Social Media

Ride the rails and share your stories with Amtrak’s new social media residency

Amtrak is looking for travel fans with a knack for telling stories on social media. The new Amtrak social media residency program wants amateur travelers to share photos, video, and written content from aboard long-distance trips.
Social Media

Hangouts isn’t being hung out to dry in 2020, Google says

According to a report, Google may shut down Google Hangouts by 2020. While Hangouts was once Google's top-tier messaging app, the app has since been neglected in favor of Android Messages.
Social Media

Tumblr bans nudity to create ‘a safe place for creative expression’

Tumblr will soon no longer allow images with adult content. The company says the change is one that's designed to help more creators feel comfortable sharing on the platform, but admits the change won't happen overnight.
Social Media

Members can share the same Story with Facebook’s new Group Stories

Facebook Group members can now view and share Group Stories. Unlike the Stories for an individual user, the new tool allows members to contribute to the same Group Story, if the feature isn't turned off by an admin.
Social Media

You can now share saved Facebook posts with a Pinterest-like collection tool

Facebook collections can now be shared with friends if you also want to allow them to contribute to the list. Facebook is rolling out an update that allows users to add a contributor to their collections, or lists of saved Facebook posts.
Mobile

Broadway actor tells Kanye West to get off his phone during opening night

Theater actors can get understandably upset when they spot someone in the audience fiddling with their phone instead of watching the show. The other night that audience member was Kanye West, and he got called out for it.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?