Your Twitter Connections Say More Than You Think [Study]

Think you’re good at hiding your political affiliations? Think again. New research suggests that your political ideology is given away by the connections you have on Twitter.

Even if you do everything you can to avoid mentioning politics on Twitter, one look at who you’re connected to will say all that you didn’t.

Researchers from Duke University looked at several US politicians’ Twitter networks, in an attempt to rank the 2010 primary candidates by ideology. They looked at both who the politician was following, and who was following the politician to determine their politicial orientation.

The researchers placed the politicians on the political spectrum based on the political ideology of their aggregate connections on Twitter, and then compared this to how the politicians voted in the past.

While anyone can wager a pretty good guess as to the political leanings of most US politicians, this research also found that regular citizens – even those only using Twitter as a purely social tool – were giving away their ideology in the accounts they chose to follow.

Going back to the politicians, it’s interesting to note that the most liberal and the most conservative accounts on Twitter are apparently John Conyers and Michelle Bachmann respectively.

While this research was effective in pinpointing an individual’s political affiliation, the researchers could not do so with larger, corporate accounts like Starbucks. This is likely because corporate networks are not personal enough to really indicate anything about the organization itself.

The New York Times is hosting a full list of the politicians, media outlets, and political organizations examined by the researchers here.

Via NYTimes Bits Blog