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Twitter Users Don’t Follow ‘Elite’ Political Accounts, Study Finds

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Twitter Users Don't Follow 'Elite' Political Accounts, Study Finds

(CTN News) _ Millions of Americans wake up each morning and immediately check their Twitter accounts for the latest news and breaking stories.

Despite this, new research suggests that most users do not follow “elite” political accounts representing members of Congress, the president, or news media outlets.

Researchers at the University of California-Davis and New York University report that the average Twitter user is more likely to follow entertainers and celebrities, such as Tom Hanks or Katy Perry.

In a university release, Magdalena Wojcieszak, lead study author and professor of communication at UC Davis, reports that those who follow political accounts on Twitter tend to participate in insular online communities, and tend to follow and share information from their political in-groups.

Another way to put it is that the smaller percentage of users who follow “politically elite” Twitter accounts usually demonstrate clear political biases and engage with them in a very one-sided manner, resulting in an “echo chamber” effect.

To reach these conclusions, study authors analyzed data spanning 1.5 million Twitter users over a period of four years.

Only one in four people follow all the ‘talking heads’

Researchers found that despite the societal prominence of presidents, congressmen, journalists, pundits, and the news media, only 40 percent of Twitter users follow one or more political “elites,”

While 60 percent follow no political accounts at all.

As a result of analyzing more than 2,500 American political elite accounts, including Trump, Biden, Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity, and the most popular media outlets such as MSNBC and Fox News,
Professor Wojcieszak concludes that only 23% of the representative sample of over 1.5 million users follow at least three of these elite accounts.

Is Twitter just a vocal minority of the public?

Overall, the study authors were surprised by this finding. Twitter is generally considered to be an overtly political social media platform in popular culture.

There is no doubt that most Tweeters log on each day to participate in, or at least browse, the latest political discussions.

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