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Despite its fast growth and media clout, Twitter remains a niche service in the U.S., used by just 8 percent of American Internet users, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. The figures paint a picture of a dynamic communications platform that’s still a ways off from being a common tool for most users.
When factoring in that 74 percent of Americans currently use the Internet, Pew said Twitter is actually in use by 6 percent of all Americans, and is most popular among Hispanic, Black and younger urban users. Among 18-29 year olds, 14 percent use Twitter, compared to 7 percent of 30-49-year-olds, the second largest group. Eighteen percent of Hispanic respondents and 13 percent of African-Americans report Twitter use, compared to 5 percent of white users. Eleven percent of urban respondents and 8 percent of suburban participants said they used Twitter while 5 percent of rural users said they did.
Twitter, the four-year-old San Francisco company, reported recently that it has 175 million users, with 370,000 new users signing up every day and 65 percent of users living outside the U.S. According to the Pew survey, the research center’s first effort to examine Twitter exclusively, 36 percent of Twitter users check for new posts on a daily basis while 41 percent say they check the site less than every few weeks or never do it at all.
Of those who update on Twitter, 72 percent said their posts are on their personal life activities, with one in five posting daily. Sharing about work life (62 percent), news (55 percent), humorous or philosophical observations about life (54 percent) and retweeting material from other people (53 percent) are the most popular uses for Twitter.
As we’ve noted before, Twitter is a news platform and a budding media company. It doesn’t have the reach of a Facebook because they serve different purposes, with Twitter more of a one-to-many, asymmetrical service. The latest numbers may underscore the fact that Twitter has a lot of growing up to do. But it also shows that in the hands of its users, it’s a powerful communications tool that serves as both a personal platform for sharing and a way to quickly broadcast the news.
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