Who Uses Twitter But Doesn't Get News From It? We've Got the Data
BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 4 2013
One of out six (16%) American adults use Twitter, and half of those people (8%) say they get news that way. The Twitter news consumer, says the Pew Research Center, is typically younger, more mobile and better educated than Facebook news consumers, who number about 30% of the adult population.
That's the information Pew highlighted in their report today, but what I wanted to know was this: Who are the people who are using Twitter but say they don't get news from it? In its survey, Pew defined a news consumer as someone who has "ever" gotten "information about events and issues that involve more than just your friends and family."
The survey authors Amy Mitchell and Emily Guskin ran the numbers for me, and here's what they say. Twitter users who aren't getting news from the service are less educated, less well-off, older, and whiter than the Twitter news consumers. (See the full chart below.)
The first two characteristics aren't surprising; in general, news consumption is correlated with educational attainment and economic class. And given that older people generally have older news habits built around TV and newspaper consumption, it makes sense that their news usage of Twitter would be lower than among young Twitter users.
But the racial swing is fascinating. We've long known that Twitter has a disproportionately high level of usage among African-Americans. In 2012, the Pew Internet Center found that 28% of non-Hispanic blacks used Twitter, compared to just 12% of whites and 14% of Hispanics.
This new report didn't separate "non-white" into non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics , but it found that Twitter news users were much more racially diverse (43% non-white) than non-news users (only 36%). That means, I think, that Twitter is more a part of the daily lives of its non-white users than it is of its white users. This could be a function of the digital divide and how people access the Internet: African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to get online using a smartphone than whites, and Twitter is a bit more native to mobile platforms than Facebook.
One more wrinkle, for those of you considering buying into Twitter's IPO this week. In 2012, Pew found that 15% of the 80% of Americans who were online were Twitter users. That is 12% of all American adults. So, according to this new survey, Twitter has seen its American user base grow from 12% to 16% of all American adults in the past year.