People have grown used to the idea of Twitter as America's stream of consciousness, but a new study suggests that the fast-growing microblogging service is also becoming a kind of digital melting pot for U.S. adults.
A survey released today by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project says that while 8 percent of Americans who log onto the Internet use Twitter, a much higher share of Internet-connected Latinos and blacks are using the service than whites. The proximity of your neighbor also seems to have much to say about whether you might communicate with him or her in Twitter's 140-character bursts, with the Pew survey finding city dwellers are more than twice as likely to use the service than Americans who live in rural areas.
Although policymakers and other experts have long been concerned about a "digital divide" between whites and minorities, with whites much more likely than minority households to have a broadband Internet connection, the rise of Internet-connected smartphones and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook may be helping to ease that gap.
"The findings around people of color are really interesting and match really well with a lot of the other work we have done recently about how African-Americans and Latinos are very engaged in social media, and how they are very active in the mobile space," said Aaron Smith, who co-authored the report for Pew.
Smith said that though Pew doesn't know why people in small towns are so much less likely to use Twitter than people in big cities, it may have something to do with the frenetic character of urban and suburban life.
"What people are doing is using technology to maintain contact with their friends and family members," he said. "People are using technology not to withdraw from the world, but to maintain some contact with the people around them and the things they are interested in -- even when they are pressed for time, and economically stressed."Read More