President Donald Trump is a prolific Twitter user, using the social media site to promote his policies and criticize his opponents. But determining just how many Americans follow President Trump on the platform is more challenging than it may sound: Twitter, after all, is an international platform used by institutional accounts and bots as well as living, breathing people in the US. A new Pew Research Center analysis estimates that around one-in-five adult Twitter users in the US (19%) follow Trump’s personal account on the platform, @realDonaldTrump.
Compared with the US public overall, which voices are represented on Twitter? The analysis indicates that the 22 percent of American adults who use Twitter are representative of the broader population in certain ways, but not others. Twitter users are younger, more likely to identify as Democrats, more highly educated, and have higher incomes than US adults overall. Twitter users also differ from the broader population on some key social issues.
Since the 2016 US presidential election, much attention has been focused on the role of bots in promoting political news on Twitter. But bots can play a role in spreading many other types of news and information as well. This study finds that suspected bots are far more active in sharing links to news sites focusing on nonpolitical content than to sites with a political focus. Some findings:
The role of so-called social media “bots” – automated accounts capable of posting content or interacting with other users with no direct human involvement – has been the subject of much scrutiny and attention in recent years. These accounts can play a valuable part in the social media ecosystem by answering questions about a variety of topics in real time or providing automated updates about news stories or events.