In 2014, Time Magazine found that “33% of tweets test at a fourth-grade reading level.” So most tweets only required an elementary school education to understand, but what do reading levels look like on Twitter in 2022? In an era when celebrities tweet about every topic under the sun, from cryptocurrency to social justice to HBO’s “Euphoria,” how “smart” are their Twitter feeds today? Shane Co. was determined to find out. We used the Flesch-Kincaid reading level formula to analyze celebrity tweets and ultimately determine which musicians, actors, and celebrity magnates have the most literate Twitter feeds.
In this study, we used a readability tool to find the average Flesch-Kincaid reading ease score and grade level of celebrity tweets. We analyzed 20 celebrities in total with the largest following on Twitter. In February 2022, we analyzed 50 of the most recent tweets for all 20 celebrities. All tweets analyzed were written in English and had 120 characters or more.
Reading Level Definitions
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Score: The Flesch score uses the number of syllables and sentence lengths to determine the reading ease of text. Lower scores are correlated with higher grade levels (i.e., lower scores are more ideal).
A Flesch score in the range of 60-70 correlates to an eighth/ninth-grade English level. A score between 50 and 60 correlates to a 10th-12th-grade level. A score below 30 correlates to a college graduate level.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: The grade level highlights roughly what grade a reader needs to be in school to understand your text.
Percent of Difficult Words Used: Difficult words are identified as long, polysyllabic words with more than three syllables, which may be harder for an audience to understand.
How Literate Are Celebrity Twitter Feeds?
At the top of the list, the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, tweets at an 11th-grade reading level, with an average reading ease score of 51.23. Scores between 50 and 60 correspond with 10th-12th-grade English. Considering Obama’s Twitter feed includes paragraphs of political prose, spanning every topic from clean energy to foreign policy, it makes sense that the grade level of his tweets is a cut above the rest.
Two tech giants lead the pack with texts the average high school sophomore can understand. Both Bill Gates and Elon Musk tweet at a 10th-grade reading level, with average reading ease scores of 45.72 and 48.58, respectively. For background, Bill Gates’ feed is a testament to his foundation’s work, addressing international poverty and inequity, while Musk’s feed is jam-packed with SpaceX developments and irreverent political commentary. Though wildly different, both magnates earn top spots on our reading level list.
Other celebrities topping the list are Oprah, tweeting at a ninth-grade reading level, and Lady Gaga and Ellen DeGeneres, both tweeting at an eighth-grade reading level.
Analyzing the Grade Levels of Celebrity Tweets
While notable figures like Obama, Bill Gates, Oprah, and Lady Gaga tweet at the highest grade levels, Britney Spears, LeBron James, Miley Cyrus, and Kim Kardashian West tweet at the lowest.
Britney Spears has dealt with enough stress in recent years with the #FreeBritney movement and her widely publicized conservatorship, so by no means do we hold her feed’s fourth-grade reading level against her! The Twitter feeds of LeBron, Miley, and Kim K are not much better, each tweeting at a fifth-grade reading level. The average grade level of tweets across all 20 celebrities analyzed is seventh grade (7.40).
Analyzing Difficult Words in Celebrity Tweets
In our study, difficult words are identified as long, polysyllabic words with more than three syllables. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, and Jennifer Lopez use the most difficult words in their Twitter feeds. On average, 16% or more of the words they use in their tweets are considered “difficult” by the definition above. So every time Obama tweets the word “gerrymandering” or Musk tweets the word “superchargers,” we can add these to the tally of difficult words.
So there you have it — most celebrity tweets require no more than a seventh-grade education to understand. Luckily, you don’t need to boast an intellectual Twitter feed to find love or your perfect match. In fact, more people are finding “the one” online by simply sliding into Twitter DMs and using the platform like a dating app (hey, it might beat Tinder).
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