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Feb. 25, 2016, 10 a.m.
Audience & Social

Reddit users are feeling the Bern: That’s one finding from a Pew report, released Thursday, that looks at the role of Reddit as both a news source in general and a destination for information about the 2016 presidential election in particular.

The report found that seven percent of U.S. adults use Reddit. Of those:

[The] user base…is more likely to be young, male and liberal than the general public. 78 percent of Reddit users say they get news there. What’s more, 45 percent of Reddit users learn about the 2016 presidential campaign in a given week from the site. This is on par with the portion of Facebook (52 percent) and Twitter users (43 percent) who get news and information about the election on those platforms and outpaces most other social networking sites asked about.

One way that Reddit differs from sites like Facebook and Twitter is that it’s broken down into subreddits, or individual discussion groups, rather than presenting itself as a stream. “Unlike on many more traditional news sites where comment sections are secondary to the articles, on Reddit the discussion among users is a main attraction.”

pew news source chartAmong the findings from the report:

— Reddit users get election news from different sources than the U.S. general public, which isn’t surprising since they skew young.

— Heavy commenting activity — at least among those discussing presidential candidates — was “concentrated among a minority of users,” with about 60 percent of users leaving just one comment and a quarter leaving three or more comments:

[T]hese findings reinforce much of what we have found in previous studies: A 2015 study of local news habits found that just a small share (less than one-fifth) of commenters to Facebook pages of news outlets left more than two comments. Another study found that on Twitter a small core of active users (12%) tweeted 100 times or more during a four week period. Among all social media users, we have found that just a small fraction say they have posted videos or photos they themselves have taken of a news event.

— Bernie Sanders was mentioned in more comments than Clinton and Trump combined during the period studied, and his subreddit /r/SandersForPresident “received more than 200,000 comments overall in the three months studied.”

The Sanders phenomenon on Reddit echoes former lesser-known candidates who garnered attention or support in digital platforms despite the fact that they did not have as high a profile in traditional media. In 2011, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, though behind other Republican candidates in the polls and in mainstream media coverage, enjoyed somewhat more activity on Twitter — with more than 1.1 million tweets referencing his campaign, which ranked him fifth among eight Republican candidates and gave him a more favorable tone in the Twitter conversation than any of the other candidates.

The full report is here.

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