Twitter and public opinion: Can’t see the forest for the tweets

Molly Wood Mar 6, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Twitter and public opinion: Can’t see the forest for the tweets

Molly Wood Mar 6, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Teachers, here’s one for your social studies students: According to new research from the Pew Research Center, Twitter is a bad way to predict public opinion. Turns out, just because a lot of people tweet something does not necessarily mean the public at large agrees. Tweets can run more conservative or more liberal than the general public.

But, one conclusion is clear: “Twitter is full of haters,” says Slate tech blogger Will Oremus. “Haters” may be a bit strong. But the study shows that negativity rules in social media.

“When [President Obama] nominated John Kerry for Secretary of State, the reaction on Twitter was overwhelmingly negative. Everybody was making fun of Kerry, but the general public, Pew found, was actually rather supportive of the Kerry nomination,” Oremus says.

To hear more about the relationship between Twitter and public opinion, click on the audio player above.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.