Most U.S. congressional members use Twitter but many tweets are delegated to staff -- and a researcher says there's an easy way to tell who is really tweeting.
Political science major David Lassen and Professor Adam Brown of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, found electoral vulnerability has nothing to do with whether elected officials exercise their right to tweet.
The main factors that influence whether a member of Congress got on Twitter were their age and whether their party leadership encouraged tweeting, the researchers said.
During the early days of Twitter, Republican leaders invited young members of Congress such as Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a R-Utah, to speak before House Republicans about using the technology. Today Republicans continue to have a larger majority on Twitter than they do on Capitol Hill, the researchers said.
Lassen said the research demonstrated that the early years of Twitter were an exploratory period for members of Congress to dabble with the technology.
"Now the bigger question is how they are using it instead of if they are using it," Brown said in a statement.
But how do "we the tweeple" know who is really tweeting?
"The actual members of Congress tweet about things like hamburgers and football games," Brown said. "When it's staff, the messages are all links to speeches and interviews. The strategy is to simply help the local press stay on top of the schedule."
The findings are scheduled to be published in the journal Social Science Computer Review.