If you’re a Twitter user, you may have come across and even participated in the infamous poll uploaded by Studio 7 VOA. If you’re not a Twitter user you may have come across some media outlets running the story claiming that the President had won approval ratings, stemming from the aforementioned poll.
The idea that a Twitter poll can be used as an “approval rating” is a bit absurd. Why? Well, it’s not because people on Twitter don’t matter but Twitter polls are extremely malleable.
Twitter polls are not useful on a serious statistical level
Twitter polls aren’t really useful for any serious research or as informers of strategy:
- You can’t see who voted so you can’t gain any demographic insight. This means a number of people outside the country, who have no idea who our President is could have voted and whoever put up the poll would have no idea of knowing that…
- Whoever is running the poll is already starting with their own audience, which is only reflective of themselves and no larger group or demographic. How many Zimbos aren’t on Twitter or didn’t participate in the poll. A significant number.
- And most importantly they’re EASY TO MANIPULATE. Twitter polls can be easily sabotaged by an automated script, otherwise known as a bot, created to submit multiple votes. These scripts allow online polling to be used as the cheapest propaganda tool of the age.
So while the President may have high-approval ratings (we don’t know because a proper poll hasn’t been conducted) reaching that conclusion using a Twitter poll is irresponsible and quite frankly, foolish…