Posted by: Tony Carson | 18 November, 2009

British Twits

Three-quarters of Brits think Twitter is a waste of time … but the rest are quite passionate.

Twitter users are among the most liberal groups in Britain, a new national poll of 2000+ people by Prospect magazine and pollsters YouGov reveals.

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The poll tested Britain’s 5.5m Twitter users and compared them to the rest of the country — revealing that British Twitterers actually have a strongly liberal and civil libertarian bias. This is in contrast to the popular view that David Cameron’s Conservatives and their blogging supporters are the most adept online force in politics.

The poll shows that while 57 per cent of Britons think greater police powers to tackle terrorism are more important than protecting civil liberties, less than half of Twitter users agree. Fifty-six per cent of the public agree that “the greatest victims of discrimination in Britain these days are often ordinary white men,” compared to only 45 per cent of Twitter users.

Prospect and YouGov created a new scale to rate the “most liberal groups in Britain” — and found that, on a relative scale constructed from our poll data (see the attached graphic) Twitter users were the third most liberal group—just behind Liberal Democrat voters, but significantly more liberal than either average Labour voters, or 16-34 year olds.

Reacting to the poll, Prospect managing editor James Crabtree said: “New technologies are often adopted by the political extremes of left and right. It is clear that the urban, metropolitan, Guardian-reading ‘chattering classes’ have flocked online to become the ‘twittering classes’ —and they are now a real force in British politics.”

The survey confirms Twitter’s image in Britain as a tool for a youthful metropolitan elite. 46 per cent of users are younger than 35, compared to 29 per cent of the population, while Twitter users more likely to live in London.

But where Twitter users and the rest of the country most disagree, perhaps unsurprisingly, is over the service itself. Twitter users might think the service is worthwhile, but 76 per cent of the British population give the idea a thumbs-down, saying they have never used it and do not intend to in future—meaning the “twittering classes” could have a Twitter monopoly for some time to come.

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