African Americans on Twitter
In class, we discussed different races and how they utilize sites like Facebook and MySpace. I wanted to look more into Twitter since we didn’t really discuss it in class. I found that percentage wise, African Americans are far more likely to use Twitter than Whites. I wondered what the actual statistics were and what other factors attracted the African American community to Twitter.
During a six month period ending in May 2012, the share of African Americans on Twitter nearly doubled from 13 to 25 percent, while the proportion of whites on Twitter edged up only slightly, from 5 to 9 percent.(Bosker)
11 percent of African Americans visit Twitter every day compared to 3 percent of Whites.(Young)
There are several possible factors that can contribute to this phenomenon.
Twitter was created for smartphones and therefore is smartphone friendly. The share of African Americans who own smartphones is above the national average (44 percent to 35 percent, respectively)(Young). The fact that so many African Americans have smartphones, and Twitter is so easily accessible through smartphones could be one factor.
Another factor is that African Americans have a higher than average interest in celebrity news and gossip. Twitter is seen as the celebrity’s social media. Many celebrities themselves tweet and have verified accounts. Celebrities typically have the most followers on Twitter. Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry are the top three most followed Ttwitter users averaging around 30,000,000 followers each.
“One of the reasons that Twitter has been successful among African Americans is that it’s good for people who like entertainment content and African Americans skew high on consuming entertainment content,” said Omar Wasow, co-founder of the social network BlackPlanet.com. “Twitter is a place you can follow lots of celebrities. It’s a better experience if you’re interested in entertainment than say Facebook.(Bosker)”
Another factor is that African Americans were very active on MySpace, and now as the popularity of MySpace declines, African Americans are searching for a different social media experience. Twitter and MySpace are the favored outlets for African Americans and Facebook is the favored for many white users. I wondered where the correlation was so I asked a few of my friends to describe Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. I then compared the results to the chart in the Watkins Article.
Adjectives college students used to describe MySpace and Facebook. (Watkins)
General Public College
Predators Stalker friendly
Adjectives college students used to describe Twitter.
Easy to use
I expected many users to describe twitter the same way they described MySpace. If the answers correlated, then I could see a trend that was appealing to African American users. However, the words used to describe Twitter were similar to the answers given to Facebook. What could account for this? I began brainstorming reasons for this difference and came to the conclusion that MySpace and Facebook are very similar social media sites. The layout and purposes of these two sites have many similarities, but perhaps the purpose of the sites is not the same as twitter. I think twitter was created as an alternative or supplement to these sites, since you can link your twitter to your Facebook. Therefore, I concluded that twitter is intended to be used differently than Facebook or MySpace. You cannot group entire people groups by certain terms and different situations require different determinations.
“African Americans are more likely than whites to use Twitter — and the gap is growing”(Bosker). The “digital divide”(Watkins) is very apparent. The problem with these theories is that certain factors are not known. However, one fact is known, that technology does not eliminate the racial divide. Race continues to be a prevalent issue within social media.
Bosker, Bianca. “Huffington Post.” Huffington Post. (2011): n. page. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/02/african-americans-twitter-use_n_916411.html.
Watkins, Craig. Digital Gates: How Race and Class Distinctions Are Shaping the Digital World.2006. Web. <https://learn.unt.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-508782-dt-content-rid-2217093_1/courses/RTVF_4450_004_1128/Watkins.pdf>.
Young, Charlotte. “Madame Noire.” Madame Noire. (2011): n. page. Web. 20 Oct. 2012.http://madamenoire.com/67920/african-americans-love-twitter-but-why/.