Most U.S. Adults Get News From Social Media

Nearly two-thirds of Americans get their news from social media, according to newly published research by the Pew Research Center.

At 67 per cent, U.S. adults are turning to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat for some of their news—with nearly 20 per cent reporting they often turn to the platforms for the headlines.

While the number is only up by five per cent from last year, the researchers found that the use of social media for news has increased among older Americans. More than half of those ages 50 and older report using social media for news, up 10 per cent from last year.

Researchers Elisa Shearer and Jeffrey Gottfried found that on Twitter, about 74 per cent of users reported getting news on the site, citing President Donald Trump’s tweet announcements as one of the driving forces. In just five years, Twitter as a news source for users has grown by 15 per cent.

“Twitter, in addition to getting nearly daily attention from the president’s posts, spent the year promoting the platform’s potential for news publishers and has announced launches for multiple news streaming partnerships,” Shearer and Gottfried wrote.

Twitter’s position in the social space has evolved since its launch 11 years ago. So much so, the platform is no longer listed as a social media site under the app store—it’s now a news and information app. However, the researchers noted that while a large share of Twitter’s users say they get news on the site, its audience is “significantly smaller” than other channels.

The Pew survey also showed growth on YouTube and Snapchat as nearly a third of users on both platforms go to the social sites for news.

“YouTube launched and expanded YouTube TV, and the site added a “breaking news” summary on its homepage,” the researchers wrote. “Snapchat won over a number of big news names this year for its group of Discover publishers: CNN, NBC, The New York Times all joined, and the platform plans on continuing to bring in others.”

The researchers noted that while numbers for Facebook as a news source were only up two points since last year, the platform still leads every other social media site as a source of news.

“This is largely due to Facebook’s large user base, compared with other platforms, and the fact that most of its users get news on the site,” said Shearer and Gottfried.

With more Americans getting news from social media, they are now also more likely than ever to search multiple platforms for the headlines. Roughly 26 per cent of U.S. adults are using several social networks to read about what’s happening in the world.

Seeking out news on social media isn’t replacing traditional news; after all, these older outlets are the ones reporting on breaking news. While social platforms are curators and disseminators of news, the Pew study found that many users are still more likely to turn to local TV and news websites than apps.