Twitter draws African-Americans?

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Published on October 11, 2014 with No Comments

For some time now buzz around the digital water cooler has circled around the idea that African-Americans as a demographic group use Twitter a lot more than other demographic groups. Now none other than the vaunted Pew Research Center is reporting that there is some truth to this. In short, says Pew, “Minority internet users are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are white internet users.” It seems that 28 percent of African-American adult users Tweet, compared to 9 percent of Whites. Until this report appeared most of us may not have given it much thought. But for at least a couple of years, there has been prominent reporting on the subject of African-Americans on Twitter. “It appears the blue bird of Twitter is just as likely to be brown,” someone wrote last year. Additionally, it is said that certain hours of the day are more popular with African-Americans.

Tech journalist Farhad Manjoo famously described “Blacktags.” These are Twitter hashtags that accompany trending topics that are by and for African-Americans. Manjoo concluded that, “young black people—do seem to use Twitter differently from everyone else on the service. They form tighter clusters on the network—they follow one another more readily, they retweet each other more often, and more of their posts are @-replies—posts directed at other users.” It seems that Blacktags tend to originate late in the evenings, and while some White users may get in on the discussions, they soon drop out and the topic continues with African-American users. There is even a PowerPoint presentation on Slideshare called, “How to be Black (Online).” Along the way some have attempted to explain the popularity of Blacktags in some philosophical way but chances are no one really knows for sure. Just another development in the Twitter world.

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