Twitter use by the U.S. Congress


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Type of work: Article (academic)


e-Democracy | Politics and Political Science | Social Media & Social Software




Twitter is a microblogging and social networking service with millions of members and growing at a tremendous rate. With the buzz surrounding the service have come claims of its ability to transform the way people interact and share information and calls for public figures to start using the service. In this study, we are interested in the type of content that legislators are posting to the service, particularly by members of the United States Congress. We read and analyzed the content of over 6,000 posts from all members of Congress using the site. Our analysis shows that Congresspeople are primarily using Twitter to disperse information, particularly links to news articles about themselves and to their blog posts, and to report on their daily activities. These tend not to provide new insights into government or the legislative process or to improve transparency; rather, they are vehicles for self-promotion. However, Twitter is also facilitating direct communication between Congresspeople and citizens, though this is a less popular activity. We report on our findings and analysis and discuss other uses of Twitter for legislators.