African Americans Love Twitter, But Why?

August 5, 2011  |  


By Charlotte Young

The great technology love story between African Americans and smart phones has grown to include Twitter. And it’s a love that keeps on growing.

Huffington Post reports that new research shows that African Americans are not only more likely to use Twitter than whites; the gap in use between the two populations is growing. Market research company Edison Research, reports that African Americans account for 22 percent of Twitter users.

In a six month period which ended in May, African American representation on Twitter almost doubled from 13 to 25 percent, while whites on Twitter went from five percent to nine percent. And African Americans aren’t just signing up for the service inactively.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 11 percent of African Americans visit Twitter everyday compared to three percent of whites. So what’s the reason behind this trend? Some experts say it’s linked directly to the above average smart phone use in the black community.

Nielsen divulges that African Americans usually talk on their phones twice as much as white users, and send 200 more text messages each month. As Twitter limits its status updates to 140 characters, it can easily be accessed on the much loved smart phones.

But another research groups disagrees, claiming their two year study of more than 500 people between 19 and 20 years old, shows no connection between high cellphone use and Twitter use in any race group.

Age is another suspected factor for African Americans’ high use of Twitter. The social media site is comprised mostly of users under 35. The 2000 census shows that the average age of blacks in 30, seven years younger than the median age of whites.

The last factor experts point to in their attempts to explain such high Twitter use in the black community, is a seemingly high interest in celebrity and entertainment news. A study conducted in 2010 reveals that “only about 40 Twitter accounts out of more than 40 million could claim more than one million followers.” All of those were either celebrity or mass media accounts.

At this point, all of these conclusions haven’t been fully proven. Researchers have done surveys on sample groups far too small in size to relay solid evidence. They caution against assumptions about the black community’s reasons for high Twitter use, as the group has a large range in interests.

For now, it looks like the reasons why African Americans love Twitter, can only be answered by each individual.

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