Twitter Adoption in Congress: Who Tweets First?
Our general objective is to characterize the recent and well publicized diffusion of Twitter among politicians in the United States 111th House of Representatives. Ultimately, Barrack Obama, Facebook and peers matter when it comes to the propensity and speed of Twitter adoption. A basic analysis of the distribution of first Tweets over time reveals clustering around the President's inauguration; which holds regardless whether the adopter is Democratic or Republican, or an incumbent or newcomer. After we characterize which representatives are most likely to adopt Twitter, we confirm the widespread belief that Facebook and Twitter are indeed complementary technology. Given their perceived desire for accessible government, a surprising result is that Republicans are more likely to adopt Twitter than Democrats. Finally, using the exact dates of each adopter's first Tweet, we demonstrate that the diffusion of Twitter is faster for those representatives with a larger number of peers already using the technology, where peers are defined by two social networks: (1) Politicians representing the same state; and (2) politicians belonging to the same committees; especially so for those in committee networks. This observed behavior can be rationalized by social learning, as the instances in which the peer effects are important correspond to the cases in which social learning is relevant.
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