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Pew analyzes the Twitterati, or not

The research firm has some numbers on Twitter usage! But here's the catch: It also counts as "Twitter users" those who update their Facebook or MySpace status.

When is a Twitter user not a Twitter user? Well, according to a new study from Pew Internet, "Twitter user" is a broad definition.

The research firm released a study this week in which the results indicated that in December, "11% of online American adults said they used a service like Twitter or another service that allowed them to share updates about themselves or to see the updates of others." Wow! Twitter sure is catching on!

But then you read the fine print: The catch here is that "update your status" is also a feature of big social networks like Facebook and MySpace, and those features are counted in Pew's definition of status-updating services. Considering Facebook and MySpace both have well over 100 million members apiece, the what-are-you-doing features on those social networks eclipse actual Twitter user for sure. We adore social-network statistics like nobody's business, but these ones probably have much less to say about Twitter than meets the eye.

So, um, taking that into consideration, let's check out the numbers.

About 20 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 have used a status-updating service, the research found (considering Facebook's ubiquity, this actually is lower than I would have expected). Then it starts to drop off. Only 10 percent of those between 35 and 44 answered affirmatively, 5 percent of those between 45 and 54, 4 percent between 55 and 64, and only 2 percent of those over 65. Okay, not surprising.

There were a few tidbits about individual social-networking sites. The average Twitter user, the study found, is older than a Facebook or MySpace user: 31, compared to 27 for MySpace and 26 for Facebook. (The average user of professional networking site LinkedIn is 40, according to the same Pew data.) Well, that's kind of interesting.

Then, the survey goes on to talk about access. 76 percent of Twitter users (and Facebook status-updaters, and MySpace status-updaters, and users of other microblogging services that haven't yet shuttered due to recessionary constraints) use wireless Internet, whether it be Wi-Fi or a handheld device. That's in contrast to 59 percent of U.S. Internet users as a whole, indicating (unsurprisingly) that people who run around updating Facebook statuses or Twitter feeds are a more mobile, tech-savvy set.

Also, 82 percent of them own cell phones and use them to send text messages (compared to 61 percent of U.S. adult Web users as a whole), but there are no statistics as to whether they use text messaging to update their statuses. However, 40 percent of that 82 percent uses the mobile Web. They're not any more likely to read the news than the average Web user, but they're more likely to read it in a mobile form and are less likely (52 percent compared to 65 percent) to read print newspapers. Guess this whole Internet thing is catching on.

One more for you and then we'll let these mildly convoluted figures rest. "Twitter users" (in Pew's broad definition) are way more likely to have blogs of their own. 29 percent of them, compared to 11 percent of the general Web population, say they have ever started a blog. Guess if you overshare in one way, you'll do it in another!