On May 27, 2011, when Anthony Weiner accidentally sent a link via Twitter which contained a very public photograph of a specific (and unwelcome) kind of Congress member, he couldn’t have begun to imagine the damage this incident would cause not only to his career, but to the prolificness of all lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, who were active on Twitter.
A new study from TweetCongress.org has analysed the rate of tweets before and after the Weiner scandal, and uncovered an interesting, if perhaps not entirely unsurprising fact: the total number of tweets across all congressmen is down 28%.
TweetCongress.org tracks more than 400 active feeds from Congress members and determined that more than 15,000 tweets were sent over 23 days beginning in early May.
On the week of May 30 through June 3, some 2,947 tweets were sent from lawmakers – 2,104 from Republicans and 843 from Democrats – compared to 4,050 the previous week (2,868 Rep., 1,182 Dem.). That’s a drop of some 28% overall.
This is interesting for a number of reasons. One, that Republicans have a lot more to say on Twitter than Democrats. Two, that both parties have immediately eased off their tweeting pace at a frighteningly similar rate. And three, that the Weiner unveiling has clearly had a withering effect on the sturdiness of Congress members on Twitter, although it’s probable it’s only going to be a temporary bout of shyness (before they bounce back). One thing’s for sure, however – I wouldn’t expect them to be sharing too many pictures anytime soon. And if they do, be extra careful when you click on those links.
And just in case you’re worried about ‘doing a Weiner’ yourself, make sure you check out our advice about the difference between a reply and a direct message on Twitter.