Me, me, me! 80% of Twitterers tweet mostly about themselves

Rutgers study shows vast majority of Twitter users are "meformers" not informers

A vast majority of Twitter users are mainly interested in ... well, themselves.

A Rutgers University study released this week shows that 80% of Twitterers are largely tweeting about themselves - what they're doing, their feelings, their opinions and other personal information.

Only 20% of the 350 Twitter users surveyed are sharing non-personal information and they tend to have larger social networks and interact more with their followers.

"While 'meformers' typically post messages relating to themselves or their thoughts, informers post messages that are informational in nature," wrote Rutgers researchers Mor Naaman and Jeffrey Boase in the study. They also said that while the majority of Twitterers may seem narcissistic, it's their attempt to maintain relationships by apprising people of their status.

"Although the meformers' self-focus might be characterized by some as self-indulgent, these messages may play an important role in helping users maintain relationships with strong and weak ties," Naaman and Boase wrote.

The seriousness of the millions of tweets floating around out there has also taken another recent hit.

In August, Pear Analytics LLC reported that 40.55% of tweets are "pointless babble." Of the 2,000 tweets that researchers looked at, Pointless Babble (as in "I just spilled my coffee" or "My kid is soooo cute") was the biggest category.

The two studies about the frivolousness of so many tweets have come out just as Twitter has gained much-needed credibility in recent months. Astronauts used Twitter to communicate from space, tweets have been issued from the White House, and Twitter turned into something of a lifeline for the people of Iran during the recent government crackdown over disputed elections there.

Twitter, though, is still dogged by the reputation that many people simply use the site to blather on about a bad cup of coffee, a good hair day or the annoyance of having to park too far from the mall entrance.

Despite this, the microblogging site has been skyrocketing in popularity this year. Though it's only the fifth most popular social networking site, use of Twitter increased by 3,712% year-over-year this past April to nearly 300 million minutes.

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)

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