Most Americans share their hobbies but not their politics in Twitter profiles — but older Democrats feel more comfortable than Republicans disclosing their bias, according to a new poll.
A Pew Research Center survey found that 73% of U.S. adults talk about themselves and 23% mention their job or occupation in their Twitter profiles.
Only 6% said they include explicitly political language that suggests support for a political party, ideology, figure, organization or major political movement.
The survey, which was released Thursday, showed that Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are more likely than Republicans and Republican-leaners to share their bias, with 7% of Democrats doing so compared to 2% of Republicans.
Older Americans, who put out the majority of political tweets, are likelier to mention politics in their profiles.
“Along with Democrats, older Twitter users are more likely to mention their political leanings on their profile: 12% of users ages 50 and older do so, compared with just 4% of users ages 18 to 49,” the survey said.
“One of the big takeaways from this work is that politics plays a less central role in how average Americans present themselves on Twitter than one might expect,” Aaron Smith, Pew’s director of data labs, said in an email to The Washington Times. “To be sure, certain users – such as older adults, or those who tweet often – tend to place political markers front and center on their profiles.”
He said that, in general, Americans are much more likely to present their professional affiliations or personal passions than to highlight themselves as “members of a political tribe.”
Chris Haynes, a political science professor at the University of New Haven, said the study affirms that many Americans use Twitter “to act out their partisan feelings” by liking and following political tweets without claiming either side.
“In short, I think people have found political tweets to be convenient vessels to channel their frustrations and anger, be they political or otherwise,” Mr. Haynes said.
The study showed that Twitter is discovering it’s “nearly impossible” to create an apolitical platform,” he said.
“In this day and age, any action or policy that regulates, limits, or amplifies political content can be seen as promoting or suppressing one political side or the other,” Mr. Haynes said.
Walter Block, an economist who teaches at Loyola University New Orleans, said the fact that more Democrats than Republicans feel comfortable on Twitter shows the left-wing bias of its decisions to ban conservatives like former President Donald Trump.
“When the president of the U.S. is not allowed to contribute to a discussion group, it is difficult to maintain that this discussion group is open to both sides of an issue,” Mr. Block said.
He said that billionaire Elon Musk, who announced last month that he’s purchasing Twitter, could balance the scales of who feels comfortable sharing their politics in profiles.
“Thank goodness to Musk for vastly improving the level of political commentary in the U.S.,” Mr. Block said.
The Pew Research Center study analyzed the Twitter profiles of 1,021 survey respondents who volunteered their Twitter handles as part of a research panel. The accounts had to be valid and active as of Jan. 31.
Researchers examined the profiles individually and then classified them according to themes and topics.
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