[colour matters...even in the twitterverse]
New Box UK Study Finds Twitter Users of Both Sex More Likely to ‘Follow’ White Women
Between June and October of 2009 London-based digital agency Box UK (http://www.boxuk.com) conducted two sequential social experiments to test how Twitter users reacted to being followed by strictly controlled test accounts. The results strongly suggest that given a choice of following black and white people of either sex, Twitter users are more likely to ‘follow’ white women, and least likely to follow black women.
This distribution also holds when the data is sub-divided into male followers and female followers for each account, showing that both sexes are most likely to follow White Female or Ambiguous accounts, and least likely to follow Black Females. We can also deduce that on average, female twitter users are 30% less likely to follow a request from a stranger, than a male twitter user.
“While it may be rather premature to conclusively argue that white women get more followers on Twitter than non-white women or men, we do know that a digital divide does exist and that certain groups of people tend to explore new applications with greater speed and enthusiasm. Without wading into a debate on technology users, more information on the aggregate of Twitter users is necessary to come to any real conclusions about their use of technology,” says Dr. Tina Basi a sociologist specializing in ethnography for design.
Basi, who previously worked with Intel’s Digital Health Research Group argues that, “perhaps what the data is pointing to, is that our relationship, as users, with new social media remains somewhat perplexing. We are still struggling with using Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, as ways of engaging and connecting with others, and instead, fall back on using them to simply keep tabs on others. The internet, as a medium, still holds the spectacle of say film or television, and seeing someone on your screen attaches a celebrity like status to them. The lack of reciprocity for some of the Twitter accounts created in this experiment, might better reflect our assumptions about celebrity and tendency toward voyeurism, as opposed to forming any real argument about Tweeters.”
Twitter is an increasingly important platform for conducting social experiments, with its ability to tap-into and measure human communication and behaviour on a massive scale. As the platform grows, we expect to see businesses and academics harnessing this capability to ‘invisibly’ survey the real behaviour and reactions of people, enabling a new wave of social research and customer intelligence.
Read more about the methodology and report here.
Image from Dan Zambonini's post on the report findings.