Dec. 9, 2010 at 11:29 AM ET
Eight percent of Americans who are online use Twitter, and the short-messaging blog is "particularly popular" with those ages 18 to 29, minorities and those who live in cities," according to a new report from The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.
For all that 140 characters -- which constitutes a tweet -- holds, 25 percent of Twitter users "check in multiple times per day for tweets from others, while one in five never check" for new tweets.
We've known that people use Twitter for all kinds of reasons -- from complaining about a company's bad behavior to commenting on TV shows like "Glee" and "Dancing with the Stars," to sharing gossip and real news.
But Pew found that 72 percent of Twitter users say they post updates tied to their personal life, activities or interests, and one in five say they add personal updates once a day or more.
Among the other stats:
— 62 percent said they post updates tied to their "work life, activities or interests, with 12 percent doing so on a daily basis."
— 55 percent of users share links to news stories, with one in 10 doing so "at least once a day."
— 54 percent say they tweet "humorous or philosophical observations about life in general, with 16 percent doing so on a daily basis."
— 53 percent retweet, or forward on, tweets posted by others to their own universe of followers.
— 52 percent send direct messages to other Twitter users.
— 40 percent share photos on Twitter.
"I do think that our finding that users post on a wide range of topics is a nice counterbalance to the notion that Twitter is just a place where people go to 'talk about what they ate for breakfast this morning,' " Aaron Smith, Pew senior research specialist who worked on the report, told msnbc.com.
"Twitter does serve as a place where people can discuss the sometimes-trivial things that are happening in their daily lives, but it also serves as a communications hub where they can talk about their work, find and share news, and expose their friends to interesting or humorous posts by retweeting material they find elsewhere on the site."
Twitter says it now has 175 million users worldwide, with about 65 million of those in the U.S. Pew says that in addition to the youth factor Twitter has going for it, African-Americans and Latinos are "more than twice as likely to use Twitter as white Internet users," and urban residents are "roughly twice as likely to use Twitter as rural dwellers."
While Twitter is a lot of things to a lot of people, it's no Foursquare or Vimeo: Pew found that location-based tweets and links to videos "are the least commonly mentioned" uses of Twitter, with only 24 percent sharing their location on Twitter, and 28 percent sharing videos.