The rise in popularity of Twitter has led to a debate on its impact on public opinions. The optimists foresee an increase in online participation and democratization due to social media’s personal and interactive nature. Cyberpessimists, on the other hand, explain how social media can lead to selective exposure and can be used as a disguise for those in power to disseminate biased information. To investigate this debate empirically, we evaluate Twitter as a public sphere using four metrics: equality, diversity, reciprocity and quality. Using these measurements, we analyze the communication patterns between individuals of different hierarchical levels and ideologies. We do this within the context of three diverse conflicts: Israel-Palestine, US Democrats-Republicans, and FC Barcelona-Real Madrid. In all cases, we collect data around a central pair of Twitter accounts representing the two main parties. Our results show in a quantitative manner that Twitter is not an ideal public sphere for democratic conversations and that hierarchical effects are part of the reason why it is not.