Pew Research Center conducted this study to gain insight into Twitter users' political engagement, attitudes and behaviors on the platform. For this analysis, we surveyed 2,548 U.S. adult Twitter users in May 2021 about their experiences on the site, as well as how they engage with politics outside of Twitter. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center's American Trends Panel (ATP) – an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses – and indicated that they use Twitter.
In addition to the survey findings, researchers from the Center also examined the actual Twitter profiles of a subset of survey participants who agreed to share their handles for research purposes. First, researchers collected all of the publicly visible tweets posted between May 2020 and May 2021 by these users. Researchers then used a machine learning classifier to identify which of those tweets mentioned politics or political concepts. Second, they collected a random sample of 2,859 accounts followed by at least one of these users – as well as all of the accounts followed by 20 or more respondents – and manually categorized them into different substantive categories based on their profile information.