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Study: Twitter usage down by members of Congress following Weiner scandal

June 09, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli | Washington Bureau
(Jin Lee, Bloomberg )

Reporting from Washington   — Has the Anthony Weiner scandal made members of Congress more Twitter-shy?

A new study indicates that lawmakers have dialed back on their 140-character messaging in the days since the New York congressman mistakenly sent a provocative photo to all his followers on the social networking site.

TweetCongress.org, which monitors 400 active feeds from members of Congress, found that more than 15,000 tweets were sent over a 23-day span from their accounts, starting in early May.

Democratic and Republican members averaged about 700 tweets each weekday in the two weeks leading up to Weiner's misfired message. In the eight weekdays since, those lawmakers were sending on average only about 550 each day, a drop in activity of roughly 21%.

There could be a number of factors at play, of course. The busiest day among Republicans was May 26, when Congress was voting on expiring provisions of the Patriot Act. For Democrats, the most activity came the day before, when the party was celebrating a special election victory in a traditionally Republican seat.

But three of the eight slowest days in that period studied came just this week, as Weiner acknowledged lying when he initially claimed his account had been hacked.

Interestingly, Republicans are far more active tweeters in general, accounting for more than 70% of the activity from May 9 through June 8.

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