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Twitter opinions don't Reflect General Public | Study




Tuesday, March 5, 2013



Have you also noticed that Twitter opinions or debates rarely reflect those of General Public?


Or if said in other words -- Do you more than often, find the opinions expressed on Twitter 

A) Not matching that of mainstream
B) More negative 
C) and sometimes when the Twitter debates are based on some events or opinion polls, the opinions are too conservative.

If you have noticed this long ago; then a new study can give you substantial support to air your observation.

According to the latest year long study by Pew Research on Twitter,

The most significant difference between the General Public opinion and the Twitter Opinion is: Twitter's is more negative.

Shedding more light on this significant difference relating to Twitter Opinion, the Pew Research says, 

Opinions expressed in the rapid-fire Twitter, particularly in response to political news, are often opposite with the general public's.

Elaborating further on this "opposition with the general public's" the study says,

Sometimes Twitter is more liberal. At other times, it's more conservative. And it's very nearly always more negative.

Key Insights from Study on Twitter Opinion:

1) Twitter Political Opinions are Opposite to the ones held by General public: The study reveals that when it comes to Political Opinions on Twitter, the bear-share of them are the contribution of unique profile of Active Twitter users. That is -- There are some specific (or select few) very active Twitter users, who start or guide the Political opinions on Twitter. As a result, the Political Opinion on Twitter always 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.

What does this mean: Political Opinions on Twitter are not that of the Adults in any country. They are simply how communities/groups of interest respond to different circumstances.


Example: Studying the political events such as the result of the 2012 US Presidential Poll, the study reveals that when Obama won re-election, public opinion polls suggested 52% of the public was pleased and 45% unhappy. On Twitter, a full 77% of tweets about his win were positive and only 23% negative.


2) Twitter opinions are of Young People who are liberal, iconoclasts and with nationalist, often radical views:

The Twitter's reaction to Obama's win (above) reflects how the Young saw Obama. Obama with high education, that too from a Top Institution; and his liberal views appealed to the young more than any other age group.

Now, although the Study sees a Twitter Political Opinion makers as a liberal young person. I have my reservations to this finding. Actually it depends, which country, the Twitter user is from. For instance, in US, where people are more open to non-privileged; Obama's views can be appealing. But in contrast, in countries like India, which is being pegged as on transition towards a Majority ruled country (The Thought which says -- Hinduism, the most populous religion in India, should come to power); the political Twitter opinion, which is ruled by young Indians, is non-liberal and anti-minorities. But just like US, it's pro poor.

3)  Twitter users are considerably younger than the general public:

The study says that the Twitter users, who are at present younger than the general public and more likely to lean towards Democratic. In a 2012 survey, half of adults who said they posted news on Twitter were younger than 30, compared with 23% of all adults.

57% of those who posted news on Twitter were either Democrats or leaned Democratic, compared with 46% of the general public.

The above findings, is true to USA. and on certain counts it's true to any other country as well. But there are always exceptions. For instance, in Indian, the Twitter population usually reflect a pro democracy.

That is all eligible citizens on Twitter, want to have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. But are they willing to listen to a Muslim and support his right to have an equal say in the decisions that affects his/her life. The answer is No. In countries like India, Political opinions on Twitter can be completely response can be totally pro-majority.

4) Political Opinion on Twitter is anti-establishment: This is not from the Study. This is my own observation. Political opinion on Twitter is Anti-establishment (the Government). Especially in developing countries. One interesting attribute of this opposition to establishment is that: it's not specific demand based. It's general opposition.

5) Twitter opinions are not always Leftist: The political opinions on Twitter are not always Leftist. The study presents this example,

Nearly half of the U.S. public (48%) thought Obama did a good job on his second inaugural address. But only 13% of the tweets about it echoed that opinion. [He might have talked on equality]

This I assume is again by virtue of Twitter demography. Young men and women on Twitter are educated, ambitious, gadget loving. This is not the salubrious environs for Communism or socialism. The countries where pro majority sentiment is coming to prominence; it's has been seen that gadget using young people are normally pro-majority or nationalist (This is my observation).

6) Twitter Opinions are Anti-Bureaucracy: The reason can be -- Why call a bureaucrat intelligent OR these bureaucrats are the root of all ill. Interestingly, on well drafted policies, Twitter crowd remains silent or it ignores. Most of Twitter Opinion, belongs to those topics which can never be concluded satisfactorily [My observation].

In short, when it comes to which topics Twitter-verse will debate; depends on which will gain more traction. Hence, topics which have the ability to have valid and equal volumes of counter arguments are seldom raised.

For example, nearly 14 million wrote on Twitter about Obama's re-election while a mere 70,000 remarked on Kerry's nomination.

7) Twitter Thrives on Negativity: On important political discourses, the number of negative comments are more than the positives.

The study gives the example of, Obama and Romney on Twitter. The negative comments about Obama bounced back and forth between 40% to 50% throughout the campaign, while positives went up to about 30% and down into the teens. (Remember, lots of comments can be neutral).

Romney's negatives were higher. Usually, between 50% to 60% of talk about him was not nice, while positives only broke above 20% during the campaign's final days.

8) Twitter Opinion can still not be compared to Media: Before taking the Twitter verdict as final, remind yourself of this thing: Twitter's overall reach is modest compared to other media.

In the Pew's 2012 news consumption survey, just 13% of adults said they ever use Twitter or read Twitter messages. Only 3% said they regularly or sometimes tweet or retweet news or news headlines on Twitter.

Summary:

1) Twitter users are younger than the general public
2) Twitter users more identify as politically liberal (which as I stated above, depends on which country the Twitter is from)
3) Twitter is still a service that can be relied on for "Breaking News". Political Opinions could be biased.






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