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Only Six Percent of Americans Use Twitter

It only feels like everyone's tweeting

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Twitter-phobes, you are not alone. Over forty percent of those on Twitter check their accounts "less than every few weeks or never check it at all." That's one of the many tidbits that's just been unearthed about the massive social networking site, courtesy of a new Pew Research center survey. The report is the first to detail the demographics of Twitter as a stand-alone entity (as opposed to surveys that lump in the site with similar services).

Unsurprisingly, the 18-29 age group represents the largest bloc of users on the site, and this demographic likes to share about their personal life, activities or interests. What may surprise some about the study, however, is that only six percent of American adults are using Twitter. While the site has nearly 175 million users worldwide, it still isn't nearly as culturally pervasive as its indirect competition, Facebook.

Tech bloggers parse the survey's findings, and share the more salient details:

  • The Eye-Catching Result That's 'Buried' In the Results  Blogging at Tech President, Nancy Scola writes that the service best known for pioneering the central question "What are you doing today?" is used much more for sharing the news. 55% of those using Twitter do so in order to share links which could, she notes, be "everything from the New York Times to a local blog." Sharing news "trails only the posting of updates about personal life or your work life, and it beats out the posting of 'general life observations,'" she reports. And that's probably why Twitter changed their inquiry from "What are you doing?" to "What's happening."
  • Twitter Isn't Facebook, It Serves a Different Purpose  Ryan Kim at Giga OM concedes that although it has 175 million users worldwide, it's still a niche service. He reminds: "Twitter is a news platform and a budding media company" and "it doesn’t have the reach of a Facebook because they serve different purposes, with Twitter more of a one-to-many, asymmetrical service." But even though it has "a lot of growing up to do" it's a powerful way to share and "quickly broadcast the news."
  • Many Teenagers Have No Use For Twitter  Why? Because self-promotion, brand extension, and receiving instant information on a particular subject isn't as appealing as having a place to congregate with friends online, figures 16-year-old guest blogger Michael Moore-Jones at Read Write Web. "Facebook already has almost everything a teen could want in terms of communication and social networking, and it's about to get even better with Facebook Messages (which will be a huge success amongst teenagers)." Although Twitter serves teens who already have developed "specific interests," the majority of others who don't have these specialized interests "realize that no one would read what they have to say, so [they] don't even bother creating a Twitter account."
  • Twitter Gets Untangled From Other Networking Sites in Survey  The previous editions of the Pew survey lumped together Twitter and other networking sites and found that, in August 2008, 6% of internet users were on "Twitter or another service" to share updates about themselves, observes Radhika Marya at Mashable. In 2010 that number had risen precipitously to 24%, "but some analysts and readers assumed this pertained to Twitter users alone." Since the latest numbers contest the notion of a dramatic rise in Twitter users, Marya wonders if  the site "remains an entity worth studying [by Pew Research] in an extensive manner."
  • 'Zombies' are Running Rampant on the Site  Gavin Dunaway at the marketing site Adotas makes the comparison between AMC's "The Walking Dead" and the amount of inactive accounts on the social-networking site. "While some tweeters have multiple accounts, Pew's numbers suggest that the zombie population--accounts run by bots or straightforward news feeds--is staggeringly high," Dunaway notes.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.