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May 26, 2016, 11:21 a.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: www.journalism.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Joseph Lichterman   |   May 26, 2016

More than 40 percent of American adults get news on Facebook, according to a report published Thursday by the Pew Research Center and the Knight Foundation. (Disclosure: Knight is a supporter of the Lab.)

Two-thirds of Facebook users access news on the social platform, and with 67 percent of U.S. adults active on Facebook, that translates to 44 percent of the overall U.S. population which accesses news on the social platform, the study said.

The conversation around Facebook’s role in the news has grown in recent weeks after Gizmodo reported that the company hired curators to decide the trending topics that feature prominently on its desktop site.

It’s undeniable that Facebook is a massive source of news consumption, and, according to the study, it’s only growing. A 2013 Pew report found that 47 percent of Facebook users went there for news. Today, 66 percent of Facebook users get news there, the study found.

Pew1In total, 62 percent of American adults access news on social media, according to the report. That’s an increase from 49 percent of U.S. adults who said they got news on social media in a similar study from 2012. However, 64 percent of Americans get their news from just one social media site, with Facebook being the most common platform for news. Twenty-six percent access news on two social platforms and 10 percent from three or more.

Facebook is overwhelmingly the largest social media source of news for Americans. 10 percent of U.S. adults get news on YouTube, 9 percent see news on Twitter, 4 percent on Instagram, and 2 percent on Snapchat and Reddit.

Pew2

Though their overall audiences are smaller, large percentages of users go to platforms such as Twitter and Reddit for news. On Reddit, 70 percent of users get news there and 59 percent of Twitter users get their news in 140-character bits, according to the report. Seventeen percent of users get news on Snapchat.

Pew3Users of Twitter, Reddit, and LinkedIn tend to seek out news on those platforms while users of Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are more likely to stumble upon news there. Sixty-three percent of Instagram users and 62 percent of Facebook users said they tend to find news on the platforms while they’re doing other things there.

The report also found that each of the social networks appeal to different audiences:

Instagram news consumers stand out from other groups as more likely to be non-white, young and, for all but Facebook, female. LinkedIn news consumers are more likely to have a college degree than news users of the other four platforms; Twitter news users are the second most likely.

Pew4

The full report is available here.

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