Black users are disproportionately represented on Twitter. And they make their presence felt daily with scores of (sometimes-cringey) "black" trending topics. Now some researchers think they know why.
For a new study, researchers at Northwestern University surveyed 505 college freshman in 2009 and 2010 to determine which ones joined Twitter and why. They found that while 37.2 percent of black students used Twitter, just 20.1 percent of their white counterparts did. (This fits with previous research that found African Americans make up a whole 25% of Twitter users.)
The reason for this discrepancy, researchers say, is that black students they surveyed were more interested in "celebrity and entertainment news" than students of other races. Interest in celebrities was one of the biggest predictor of whether someone would join Twitter from 2009 to 2010, regardless of race. But since more blacks were interested in connecting with celebs than whites, they were more likely to join.
Back in the mid-2000s, MySpace experienced something like "white flight" as wealthier, whiter users came to see it as a digital "ghetto" full of child molesters and headed for the literally lighter-colored Facebook. But Twitter seems to be doing just fine in fostering a diverse user base while not making anyone too uncomfortable (or, rather, making everyone equally uncomfortable all the time.) Perhaps this heralds a new golden era of E-race relations! Stupid hashtags like #thingsblackpeopledo and #fatindiebands living side-by-side in the trending topics, while people of all races worship every 140-character brain fart from Lady Gaga and 50 Cent, just like in Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream.
But let's see how many people on Twitter immediately use this study to back up their racist views. [Northwestern.edu, Image via Shutterstock]