Most users do not follow political elites on Twitter; those who do show overwhelming preferences for ideological congruity

Magdalena Wojcieszak, Andreu Casas Salleras, Xudong Yu, Jonathan Nagler, Joshua Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We offer comprehensive evidence of preferences for ideological congruity when people engage with politicians, pundits, and news organizations on social media. Using 4 years of data (2016–2019) from a random sample of 1.5 million Twitter users, we examine three behaviors studied separately to date: (i) following of in-group versus out-group elites, (ii) sharing in-group versus out-group information (retweeting), and (iii) commenting on the shared information (quote tweeting). We find that the majority of users (60%) do not follow any political elites. Those who do follow in-group elite accounts at much higher rates than out-group accounts (90 versus 10%), share information from in-group elites 13 times more frequently than from out-group elites, and often add negative comments to the shared out-group information. Conservatives are twice as likely as liberals to share in-group versus out-group content. These patterns are robust, emerge across issues and political elites, and exist regardless of users’ ideological extremity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)eabn9418
JournalScience Advances
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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