[Nigel Hannaford] Twitter: A medium you don't need, if you do need to know what's going on

[Nigel Hannaford] Twitter: A medium you don’t need, if you do need to know what’s going on

Opinion
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[Facebook] According to a report issued last week by Pew Research, ‘U.S. adult Twitter users are younger and more likely to be Democrats than the general public. Most users rarely tweet, but the most prolific 10 percent create 80 percent of tweets from adult U.S. users.’

VIDEO: [Subverse] Research proves Twitter does not represent real America… A new Pew Research Study shows 80 percent of US tweets come from 10 percent of US Twitter users and that Twitter users are not a perfect representation of political beliefs and opinions of the general American public. Read the whole Pew Study here: https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/04/2. This 10 minute video walks you through its main points. [Apr. 25, 2019]


The report makes no mention of what’s going in Canada, but one thing seems a good bet: If you wanted a balanced picture of what people in Alberta were thinking during the election+, the twittersphere was not the place to look.

Granted, it’s where the media look. But, that’s because the media likes Twitter. It’s immediate and as journalists don’t write stories about people agreeing with each other, and Twitter is mostly conflict on steroids, to Twitter do reporters turn. But as Pew has now revealed, it’s not a representative sample in the U.S. so it should be no surprise that when the final Alberta election results came in, it turned out the media had invested Twitter with an authority that it just didn’t have here, either. Not that the tweet storms weren’t real: It’s just that they turned out to be a small number of people talking a lot about things that were more important to them than anybody else – a mouse with a megaphone, as it turned out.

For example, on 29 March, a Canadian Press story run by Global TV offered up this breathless headline, ‘Twitter users voice opposition of UCP plan to revert to old GSA rules.’ It continued, ‘Albertans were quick to jump on Twitter to weigh in on the issue, using the hashtag #QueerkidsAB, which was trending across Canada on Monday and into Tuesday morning. Those opposing the UCP’s plan said it would harm LGBTQ students in Alberta.’

Trending! Sounds like news! Sure enough, the writer then larded the article with angry tweets that suggested a rising tide of opinion opposing the UCP. (It used to be that we quoted people in ‘between quotation marks.’ Now we just cut and paste their tweets.) Indeed, the CBC reported that a University of Alberta research team had started tracking Twitter to see ‘which issues are getting the most traction and sparking the most heated debates during the provincial election campaign.’ They added, ‘it’s clear that this election’s Twitter chatter is spilling into the real world – with protests that force political parties to respond.

This article continues at [FaceBook] Twitter a poor predictor in Alberta election

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