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Twitter talk often at odds with public opinion

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Former US Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) speaks at George Washington University March 4, 2013 in Washington, DC. Paul spoke at the event organized by student Republicans about his experience in the US government as well as liberties and fiscal policy. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

A new Pew Research Center study indicates that the conversation on Twitter over current events doesn't always reflect the larger American public opinion. Actually, it's often well off the mark:

Although sentiment on Twitter can sometimes match that of the general population, it is not a reliable proxy for public opinion. During the 2012 presidential race, Republican candidate Ron Paul easily won the Twitter primary — 55% of the conversation about him was positive, with only 15% negative. Voters rendered a very different verdict. After the Newtown tragedy, 64% of the Twitter conversation supported stricter gun controls, while 21% opposed them. A Pew Research Center survey in the same period produced a far more mixed verdict, with 49% saying it is more important to control gun ownership and 42% saying it is more important to protect gun rights.

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