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8% of U.S. Adult Internet Users Use Twitter; Users More Likely to Be Young, Urban Minorities

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has released the first-ever report that exclusively examines Twitter users.  The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews of U.S. adults conducted from November 3-24, 2010.

According to the report, 8% of American adult internet users are Twitter users, and 2% say they use it on a typical day.   With 74% of American adults identifying as internet users, this means that population of Twitter users amounts to 6% of the entire U.S. adult population.

Compared to the average American adult internet user, Twitter users are more likely to be young adults, minorities, and to live in cities:

  • Gender: women are more likely to use Twitter, with 10% of female Internet users doing so, than men (7%).
  • Age: 14% of Internet users ages 18-29 use Twitter, compared to 7% of those aged 30-49, the next-highest group.
  • Race/Ethnicity:  18% of Hispanic and 13% of Black internet users use Twitter, compared to only 5% of white, non-Hispanic users.
  • Education: 9% of those with college education are Twitter users, compared to only 5% of those with just a High School Diploma.
  • Geography: 11% of urban internet users are Twitter users, compared to 8% for suburban and 5% for rural users.

What’s in a Tweet?

  • 72% of Twitter users in our sample say that they post updates related to their personal life, activities or interests, with 19% doing so once a day or more.
  • 62% post updates related to their work life, activities or interests, with 12% doing so daily.
  • 55% share links to news stories; 12% do this daily.
  • 54%  post humorous or philosophical observations about life in general; 16% do this daily.
  • 53% retweet material posted by others; 18% do this daily.
  • 52% send direct messages to other users; 11% do this daily.
  • 40% share photos; 12% do this daily.
  • 28% use Twitter to share videos; 8% do this once a day or more.
  • 24% tweet their location; 7% of users doing so on a daily basis.

Twitter users are nearly equally divided between those who check the site on a daily basis (or multiple times per day) and those who check the site infrequently or never. Thirty-six percent of Twitter users check Twitter on a daily basis or multiple times per day, while 41% say they check the site less than every few weeks, or not at all. The remaining 21% of users say they check the site for updates a few days each week or every few weeks.

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