Representativeness of Social Media in Great Britain: Investigating Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionAmerican Behavioral Scientist. 2017, 61 (7), 741-756. 10.1177/0002764217717559
Sociological studies show that Internet access, skills, uses, and outcomes vary between different population segments. However, we lack differentiated statistical evidence of the social characteristics of users of distinct social media platforms. We address this issue using a representative survey of Great Britain and investigate the social characteristics of six major social media platforms. We find that age and socioeconomic status are driving forces of several—but not all—of these platforms. The findings suggest that no social media platform is representative of the general population. The unrepresentativeness has major implications for research that uses social media as a data source. Social media data cannot be used to generalize to any population other than themselves.
The accepted and peer reviewed manuscript to the article