Twitter in Congress

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) analyzed how members of Congress used Twitter during two one-week periods in July and August 2009. Among the data: as of Aug. 2009, 127 Representatives and 31 Senators were registered with Twitter and issued approximately 1,187 tweets during those periods. Of six categories that CRS used--position taking, press or web links, district or state activities, official congressional action, personal, and replies--the most frequent tweets were for press and web links.

From data collected on Sept. 2, 2009, on followers: Congress had a total of 1.7 million+ followers. Representatives had followers ranging from 130 to 13,000+, with the median Representative having 1,617 followers. Senators had followers ranging from 353 to 1.2 million+, with the median being 3,998 followers.

CRS concluded:
As Members continue to embrace new technologies, their use of Twitter and other forms of social media may increase. These mediums allow Members to communicate directly with constituents (and others) in a potentially interactive way that is not possible through mail or e-mail. For Members and their staff, the ability to collect and transmit real time information from constituents could be influential for policy or voting decisions.

Social Networking and Constituent Communication: Member Use of Twitter During a Two-Week Period in the 111th Congress, R40823 (pdf, 15pp/185kB), from Open CRS, Sept. 21, 2009

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