Facebook's Right-Wing, Twitter's Left-Wing. Discuss.
Facebook’s for grown ups
It’s simpler and more attractive for older users to join Facebook. Motivated by access to news and images of their friends and relatives, they can see the value and engage quickly.
Twitter’s for kids
Twitter demands more tech familiarity, being adept at text messages, understanding hashtags and the evolving online vocabulary.
Older people are proportionately more right wing and younger people more left wing, so they gravitate to the social media platform that best suits them.
Facebook’s more conservative
As aspiring politician Jess Asato put it: ‘Facebook is great for posting events and celebrating achievements.’ It’s a popular site for animal videos. Some of the highest ‘like’ counts are for historical shots or videos – how life used to be. None of these things will change the world, they just make us smile and feel nostalgic.
Twitter’s more progressive
News stories commonly reach Twitter before they reach the mainstream media. Often, they’re subsequently adopted by the media – they become the news. When something trends on Twitter, that in itself can be a news story.
This crossover is seldom true of Facebook, where trending items are more likely to be monkeys hugging dogs or some act of human contortion.
Facebook features displays of wealth or status
Wealthier, better connected, better looking social media users flood Facebook with their achievements and celebrate those of their friends. This isn’t necessarily a right wing trait, but it connects with a sense of entitlement, of privilege and social superiority.
Twitter gives the agitator and the dispossessed a voice
Just as an individual shouting in a stadium is unheard outside it, whereas 10,000 voices can be heard a mile away, Twitter users gain strength in numbers and oblige others to pay attention. It’s a form of instant crowdsourcing and the democratisation of comment.
Right-wing views can (of course) be found on Twitter, but it’s a more natural home for progressive, liberal ideas.
Right-wing parties invest more in Facebook
The British Conservative Party has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Facebook promotions in the current election. With the support of wealthy donors, the party has been outspending the Labour Party on Facebook by as much as ten to one.
Certainly the growing ability of any party to force its messages into Facebook feeds is causing more annoyance – so could be losing votes instead of winning them.
Twitter advertising is less developed
…which could account for the poorer showing of some right wing parties on the platform. Unlike Facebook, there is less of a natural space for advertising to mesh with Twitter feeds (so far). And the high incidence of trolls puts off some campaign managers.
There’s a natural tendency for opposition parties to be more vocal on social media – they have more to complain about. So any left-wing bias on Twitter in the UK may reverse if Labour comes to power. Ditto right-wing in the US if the Republicans win the next election.
But I think that Facebook’s general sway towards a right wing agenda will continue. Its habitat is too fluffy and comfortable to accommodate hard political campaigns. Everyone agrees that equality is a good thing (‘like!’) but they’re not prepared to leave the sofa to achieve it.
Twitter has lately acted against trolling and will surely do much more, but its anarchic spirit has survived its first nine years. I doubt it will have much to say in 10 years’ time.