Linking Twitter and survey data: the impact of survey mode and demographics on consent rates across three UK studies

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Social Science Computer Review


Tarek Al Baghal, Luke Sloan, Curtis Jessop, Matthew L. Williams and Pete Burnap

Publication date


In light of issues such as increasing unit nonresponse in surveys, several studies argue that social media sources such as Twitter can be used as a viable alternative. However, there are also a number of shortcomings with Twitter data such as questions about its representativeness of the wider population and the inability to validate whose data you are collecting. A useful way forward could be to combine survey and Twitter data to supplement and improve both. To do so, consent within a survey is first needed. This study explores the consent decisions in three large representative surveys of the adult British population to link Twitter data to survey responses and the impact that demographics and survey mode have on these outcomes. Findings suggest that consent rates for data linkage are relatively low, and this is in part mediated by mode, where face-to-face surveys have higher consent rates than web versions. These findings are important to understand the potential for linking Twitter and survey data but also to the consent literature generally.





Information And Communication Technologies, Social Networks, Demography and Survey Methodology


Online Early; Open Access; This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (