May 21, 2018
While 76% of Americans ultimately hear about @realDonaldTrump’s tweets and the news they generate, few Americans say they read the POTUS’s tweets unfiltered, directly from Twitter (8%). Instead, most appear to read or learn about them indirectly, through either other social media or the broader news media, based on findings of a poll conducted by Gallup and released on May 16.
Trump views his use of Twitter as a way of sending unfiltered opinions and views directly to the public. In June 2017, Trump tweeted: “The FAKE MSM [mainstream media] is working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out.”
However, just 26% of Americans have a Twitter account, and 30% of that group—or 8% of the overall U.S. population— personally follow the president’s official Twitter account.
The corollary of the finding that relatively few Americans read Trump’s tweets directly on Twitter is that most of those who say they see, read or hear a lot or a fair amount about his tweets (69%) are getting their information from a secondary source. Some of their access to his tweets could be relatively straightforward, such as when a friend forwards a tweet or when a tweet is reprinted directly in a publication and the person reads only the tweet. But Americans’ awareness of Trump’s tweets is more commonly the result of an indirect, filtered dissemination.
Interestingly enough, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they see, read, or hear a lot about Trump’s tweets (64% vs. 50%, respectively). Democrats also edge out Republicans when including those who read a fair amount of his tweets: 84% of Democrats see, read or hear about at least a fair amount of the president’s tweets, compared with 77% of Republicans (and 71% of independents).
The major difference between Republicans and Democrats is among those following Trump’s tweets without having a Twitter account.
- Republicans and Democrats are about equally likely to have a Twitter account— but, among those who have an account, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they officially follow Trump. Overall, 15% of all Republicans follow Trump on Twitter, compared with 5% of Democrats.
- But among those who don’t follow Trump on Twitter, Republicans are much less likely than Democrats to say they read, see or hear a lot about Trump’s tweets (46% vs. 80%, respectively).
In some ways, then, Twitter functions for Trump much like an old-fashioned press release or press conference statement. Few Americans see or read his tweets directly, but many ultimately hear about them via media coverage or other means.
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