Twitter/Facebook Divide

Thursday, Mashable wrote an article about a new study that came out that stated nearly half of all Americans are using Facebook.  That’s a pretty astronomical number, and it is probably very much in line with many of the studies we’ve been reading for class that are a few years old, but show how Facebook was growing each year.  It also reminds me of the one article that said Facebook was more accessible and attracted “average” users–there were so many users, there wasn’t a singular special demographic.

The other shocking part of the survey was that only 7% of Americans are using Twitter.  They go on to discuss how Twitter is made up of power users, and only 22% of users account for 90% of all tweets.  As a pretty active Twitter user, I’m pretty surprised to hear there is that much of a difference between Twitter users and Facebook users.  On the other hand though, it makes sense and I believe it to be true.  I often think Twitter has given me a distorted view of the world.

When something horrific happens, I hear about it first from Twitter and an hour later, I assume everyone has already heard about the news.  I often get surprised when someone hasn’t heard who the latest celebrity death/arrest/sentencing was.  Or if there’s an environmental disaster, how do you not know there was a mudslide in (insert a city/state/country here)?! I remember when the plane crashed in the Hudson River, the first reports were on Twitter with Twitpics to follow and I knew within minutes.  (Seriously, that’s not even an exaggeration!)  The next day, I was at a coffee shop and a woman was reading the paper with the plane on the front cover and was astonished that it had happened.  She said “I had no idea!  I don’t watch TV!”  I looked at her like she lived under a rock and thought, “I heard about it on Twitter, Facebook and all of the Internet before seeing it on TV.”

I realize that I might (read totally) be an extreme example with my reliance on Twitter for information/news/entertainment.  But, I wonder if this is another form of the digital divide?  Are news stories not getting shared because Twitter users assume everyone has heard?  Are things “old news” before they even hit CNN.com?  It’ll be interesting to see how Twitter grows in the future and if it can come close to the amount of Facebook users.

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About sheli223

My name is Sheli McHugh. I'm a librarian at the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pa. I enjoy coffee, reading, watching movies and skiing.