Here’s what our research says about news audiences on Twitter, the platform now known as X



Dr Craig T. Robertson

Twitter, the platform now known as X, has seen a lot of changes in 2023. Since the takeover by Elon Musk in October 2022, many of the platform’s functions have changed or been removed, and it has received a total rebrand. When it comes to news and news organisations on the platform, big changes have included the overhaul of the verified checkmarks system and the removal of news headlines from article links.  

Given the rapid pace of change, it’s hard to say what the future of news on X will be. But we can look back at what we’ve learned about Twitter through 10 years of survey data from the Digital News Report, especially what we know about how the platform is used for news. All the survey questions were asked while the platform was known as Twitter, so these findings refer to Twitter – and we will therefore use «Twitter» throughout most of this piece. Many findings will likely continue to apply to X, so for now we refer to them in the present tense. Others, however, will need to be revised is a when a new consensus emerges from the available research.

Big takeaways from our research – and work conducted by others – include: 

  • Twitter’s user base in general and for news is not representative of the wider population, with a minority in all countries using the platform. 
  • Twitter users are more likely to be men than users of other social media platforms. Users also tend to be more well-off and well-educated, as well as more interested in news and politics. But the platform’s users are no more partisan than users of other platforms (or more partisan in markets like the US than the population we survey). 
  • Use of Twitter for news is highest in markets in Asia and Latin America, with lowest usage in mainland Europe. 
  • Even though the platform has undergone many changes, Twitter use for any purpose and for news has remained remarkably stable in our data over the last 10 years. 
  • Twitter, when compared to other platforms, is considered more of a destination for news – particularly news about politics from mainstream brands, smaller/alternative sources, and politicians. 
  • There is some evidence that people form partisan, like-minded communities clustered around some political topics on Twitter. However, research also indicates that users are likely to be exposed to more diverse news and perspectives as a result of using the platform. 
  • While misinformation does circulate on Twitter and there are legitimate concerns about this, past research indicates that the prevalence and reach of false information has been more limited than assumed. However, empirical research has not yet studied the effect of recent changes to the platform. 

Where is Twitter used most? 

Looking at all the markets surveyed in the Digital News Report 2023, we can see that the home of Twitter – the US – is not the market where its usage is highest among the population. A quarter (25%) of people in our US survey say they use Twitter for any purpose, while 14% use it for news. This is lower than the proportion of people in many Asian markets – though, in absolute terms, the US has the highest total number of Twitter users, followed by Japan. In Europe, usage of Twitter in our survey is relatively high in the UK, Ireland, Spain, and Turkey. Elsewhere in Europe, usage is limited. 

Seguir leyendo: Reuters Institute

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