WASHINGTON (CBS CONNECTICUT) — A growing sect of young, mobile and highly educated Americans are getting their news from Twitter.

A Pew Research Center study finds that nearly half (45 percent) of Twitter news consumers are between the ages of 18 and 29 years old. They are also more educated than Facebook news consumers and the general U.S. population, with 40 percent of Twitter news readers having at least a bachelor’s degree.

Nearly one-in-ten American adults (8 percent) get their news through Twitter and 16 percent use it generally, the collaborative report with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation research found. The report is based on a survey of more than 5,000 U.S. adults, including 3,268 Facebook users and 736 Twitter users.

Eighty-five percent of respondents said they at least “sometimes” get news of any kind from their mobile devices.

Only 2 percent of Twitter news consumers were 65 years or older.

The Pew Center also analyzed Twitter conversations surrounding large news events over the past year, and found that the social media network quickly flows between sentiment, topics and distance from general public opinion.

Analysis of the Newtown, Conn. shooting on Dec. 14 of last year showed how quickly Twitter topics can change. On the day of the shooting, sentiment and sympathy for the victims made up one-third of the conversation. But by Dec. 17, gun control, President Barack Obama, mental health issues and the shooter doubled in focus.

Also in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the research showed that 64 percent of the Twitter conversation supported stricter gun controls, with 21 percent opposing such legislation.

However, a Pew survey of the general public taken at the same time represented a much more mixed verdict, with about half (50 percent) saying control of gun ownership was important, but 42 percent saying it is more important to protect gun rights.


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