More African Americans Use Twitter: Study

Tuesday, May 17, 2011  |  Updated 2:06 PM CDT
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More African Americans Use Twitter: Study

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A Northwestern Researcher says more African Americans use Twitter than do other races.

A group of Northwestern University researchers studied which types of people use Twitter and found a racial disparity among the users.

More African Americans embrace the social media platform to keep up on news and social events than other races.

"Students with higher Internet skills were more likely to start using Twitter and so were African Americans, who we found report more interest in celebrity and entertainment news than their peers of other races,” said Eszter Hargittai, associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern and lead author of the study. “Students of all races with an interest in celebrity and entertainment news were more likely to become Twitter users whereas someone with an interest in science and research was less likely to become a Twitter user.”

To gather their data, Hargittai and team, surveyed 505 University of Chicago students two times. They interviewed the group once in 2009, then again in 2010 to chart their growth and progress on the platform.

Both surveys asked students to share their awareness and use of Twitter as well as their gender, race, Internet skill level, interest in topics such as international news, politics, entertainment and celebrity news, sports, science, technology, arts and crafts, and their parents’ educational backgrounds. Only 3.6 percent of the students were using Twitter in 2009, but that percentage jumped to 17.8 percent in 2010, as Twitter gained more worldwide popularity.

So how does race factor? It's all about celebrity: 

African Americans in general report more interest in celebrity and entertainment news and were found to be more likely than whites to start using Twitter. The research, which focused on first-year college students attending the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), found 37 percent of black students were using Twitter in 2010 compared to 21 percent of white students.

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