President Donald Trump may not be a fan of social networks, but he’s a prolific user. And his activity has garnered a strong following among adult Twitter users in the US — nearly 20% of them follow the president’s account.
Trump uses his account, which has nearly 62 million followers, to announce policy changes and criticize his opponents. The account has also been a favorite medium for the president to issue what many interpret as threats, despite Twitter rules forbidding that type of activity.
Just as Trump uses Twitter as a political megaphone, many Americans are using the social network to keep tabs on the president. A new analysis by the Pew Research Center found that nearly one in five US adults (19%) on Twitter follow the president’s account.
The estimate was based on the 87% of the 2,388 study participants who have public-facing accounts; the accounts being followed by the other 13% couldn’t be independently verified because the accounts are private.
Not surprisingly, Republicans and right-leaning adult Twitter users are more likely to follow Trump on Twitter than Democrats and users who lean more to the left. More than 30% of adult Republican Twitter users follow Trump on the platform, compared with 13% of adult Democrats on Twitter, the study found.
The study also found that 38% of adult Democrats on Twitter follow the account of former President Barack Obama, compared with 9% of Republican or right-leaning adult Twitter users in the US,
The study, conducted in late 2018, found that 54% of Trump’s followers approved of job performance, compared with 24% of Twitter users who don’t follow him.
The numbers seem to belie Trump’s often stormy relationship with Twitter. Trump has tried to block Twitter users who criticize or mock him on the social network, but a federal court ruled earlier this month that he can’t because it’s a public forum.
Echoing criticism he’s leveled at Silicon Valley, Trump has also accused Twitter of liberal bias and suppression of conservative voices. In August, Trump took to Twitter to accuse social media companies of “totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices.”
Earlier this month, during an interview on Fox News, Trump accused Twitter of making it difficult for people to follow him on the site, though the president didn’t offer evidence to support this point.
The social media site announced last month that it’s changing how it handles some tweets from politicians and government leaders, including the president. Twitter said it would start placing a warning notice over tweets that violate its rules and de-emphasize them on the site. The change is part of Twitter’s efforts to combat abuse and harassment on its platform.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.