Study: Atheists Tweet More Than Muslims, Jews and Christians Do


A new study on the microblogging site Twitter has shown that atheists tweet more than religious people do, including those who are Muslim, Christian or Jew. The study also found that self-identified religious users are more likely to tweet to individuals of their own faith than those who follow another religion. The study included individuals whose Twitter profiles marked them as Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist or Atheist and all of the subjects were from the United States.

“On average, we can say atheists have more friends, more followers and they tweet more,” said Lu Chen, a doctoral candidate at the Kno.e.sis Center at Wright State University, who co-authored the study with Ingmar Weber from the Qatar Computing Research Institute and Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn from Rutgers University-Camden.

The trio is scheduled to present the result of their joint study at the 6th Annual International Conference on Social Informatics in November. The study is a remarkable one, considering how vast it was. The researchers involved studied over 96 million tweets from more than 250,000 Twitter users, the users’ friends, the people they follow and the users’ followers. The study subjects were compared to a baseline group of Twitter users who did not mention any religious preference.


Apart from the above findings, the study also revealed some others listed below:

  • Of the five religious groups, Muslims are most active on Twitter and Muslims as well as Jews have the maximum number of friends and followers.
  • While Christians used discriminative words like Christ, Jesus and Bible, atheists used discriminative words like science, evolution and evidence.
  • The more famous a religious figure is, the more likely he or she is to have a higher number of followers from another religion.
  • No matter what religion a Twitter user identifies himself or herself with, the most commonly used words are life, love, work and happy.

“Human beings are not that different no matter who you believe in,” said Chen. “People still care a lot about our daily lives; that is quite similar. Love, good life, we care about the world, we care about other people. It is the same.”

Okulicz-Kozaryn, co-author of the study, is of the opinion that Twitter serves as an important medium for religious people and it is likely to become even more popular in the future.

“Social media like Twitter are taking up more and more communication,” he said in an email. “People talk to each other less and use social media more and hence that kind of communication matters more.”

Even though religious groups do not usually use Twitter to recruit new members, the microblogging site surely serves as a place to express one’s personal opinion.

“It’s not like groups tweet, ‘Hey join us,’” he said. “It is having your voice heard, making people interested, etcetera, and through that some recruitment will happen.”

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