Politicians might think that social media is a great way to engage with constituents—but Twitter users were actually less likely to speak up about local issues in parliament.

And while Facebook was used more by younger politicians, MPs of all generations took to Twitter equally.

UniPollWatch’s House:Divided project has scoured the Australian Parliament website to mine it for data about MPs’ political performance.

Of the 150 MPs in the lower house, 107 had Twitter accounts listed on the official parliament website and 125 had Facebook accounts.

At the time the data was collected, the mean number of tweets on a politician’s account was 2444, and the most prolific tweeter was Tim Watts—who now has 41,000 tweets.

In comparing politicians’ social media use with their political performance, Bond University journalism students analysing the data found there was a link between Twitter use and other areas of political activity.

Tweeters spoke up on local issues in parliament a mean of 35 times, while non-tweeters made (a mean of) 50 local issues speeches.

The front bench was more likely to be Twitter-active than the back bench.

Frequent tweeters were more likely to be young and spent more time doing committee work (although, the commitment to committee work might have more to do with age and political experience than social media use), and were less likely to ask ‘Dorothy Dixers’ (questions to their own party) in Question Time.

Eight of the top 10 most prolific tweeters were from the ALP. 92% of MPs were on some sort of social media platform.

*Number of Tweets is the number posted on the MP's account since its creation, correct at time of data collection (March 2016). 

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