Social Media Providing News to Most Americans, Alas

In an ominous, ongoing trend, two thirds (67%) of U.S. adults report getting at least some of their news on social media, with two-in-ten (20%) doing so often, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. This is a modest but troubling increase from early 2016, when 62% of Americans reported getting news on social media. Not surprisingly, the 2017 growth is caused by increases among Americans who are older, less educated and non-white. For the first time in Center surveys, more than half (55%) of Americans ages 50 or older report getting news on social media sites, up 10 percentage points from 2016.

Three of nine social media platforms asked about in 2017 – Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat – had an increase in the share of their audience that gets news on each site. About three-quarters (74%) of Twitter users report getting news on the site, up 15 percentage points from early 2016. About a third of YouTube’s users (32%) now get news from the site, up from 21% in early 2016. And news use among Snapchat’s user base increased 12 percentage points, to 29% currently, up from 17% in early 2016. Looking at the U.S. population, Facebook outstrips all other social media sites as a source of news. Just under half (45%) of all U.S. adults get news on the site (68% of its user base).

YouTube, which saw both its user base and the portion getting news there grow in 2017, is now the second most common social media site for news. Roughly two-in-ten of all U.S. adults, 18%, get news there.

While a very large share of Twitter users (74%) get news on the site, its user base is significantly smaller than Facebook’s or YouTube’s, resulting in a smaller overall reach for news: 11% of U.S. adults get news on Twitter.

Americans are also now more likely than ever to report getting news from multiple social media sites. About one quarter of all U.S. adults (26%) get news from two or more sites, up from 18% in 2016.

Looking beyond social media, a companion Pew Research Center blog post reveals new figures on the various platforms Americans use for news. The data show that the internet is closing in on television as a source of news. As of August 2017, 43% of Americans report often getting news online, compared with 50% who often get news on television – a 7-percentage-point gap. In early 2016, this gap between the two news platforms was 19 points.



About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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