Study: Twitter and public sentiment don't always align - New York News

Study: Twitter and public sentiment don't always align

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

The old adage has a new twist: don't always believe what you read, especially if it's on Twitter.

It might not be as accurate as you think, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

In the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the president was heavily criticized for looking down a lot and being ill prepared.

At the time, public opinion polls heavily favored Romney: 66 percent to 20 percent. But favorable Tweets outnumbered Romney's 59 percent to 40 percent.

"People get instead of beer muscles, technology muscles, and they feel it is right to share immediately what is on their mind via social networking, Twitter specifically," says Chris Dessi, a social media expert.

The Pew Research Center studied eight major news events, comparing polls of those stories to Tweets. It says the numbers just did not add up. Researchers found twitter reactions were generally more liberal and Democratic in tone than the national average.

Dr. Jeff Gardere says Tweeters tend to be provocateurs.

"They are very expressive, they want to be heard and sometimes their opinion is quite contrary and they want people to know that what they have to say is different than the popular opinion," he says.

Researchers also found that at times Twitter reaction was more conservative than public opinion, like in the case of the president's second inaugural speech.

Tweets also fell in line with polling when Romney chose Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate.

But, overwhelmingly, tweets were found to be much more negative than public sentiment. That begs one obvious question: the next time there is a big story should you believe the tweets or polls?

That brings us to another old saying: six of one, half a dozen of another.

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