Social media growing as a news source, Pew survey shows

More Americans than ever — two-thirds — are getting news from social media, with a big jump among older people who report using Facebook, Twitter and other sites as news sources.

A new survey from the Pew Research Center shows that 55 percent of Americans 50 and older say they get their news from social media, compared with 45 percent last year. Meanwhile, the under-50 age group remains the top consumer of news on social media: 78 percent, same as in 2016. The overall number, 67 percent, is up from last year’s 62 percent.

Facebook continues to be the top social media source for news. Pew’s numbers show that 66 percent of Americans use Facebook, and a majority of those users get news on the social network. This means about 45 percent of all U.S. adults are getting news on Facebook, the report said.

The Facebook numbers are particularly notable considering the growing reports of the influence of fake news on the U.S. presidential election and Donald Trump’s victory. The Silicon Valley company admitted this week that it found hundreds of Russia-linked fake accounts and pages that spent $100,000 for divisive political ads before the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, Twitter is expected to release an analysis of Russian activity on its platform, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, who’s vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters Thursday. All this comes amid an investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.

Twitter, by the way, saw its share of users who get news from the platform jump 15 percentage points this year to 74 percent, according to Pew.

“Since 2013, at least half of Twitter users have reported getting news on the site, but in 2017, with a president who frequently makes announcements on the platform, that share has increased to about three-quarters,” the Pew report said.

Other social media sites that saw a rise in the number of users who get news from their platforms were YouTube (32 percent, up from 21 percent in 2016) and Snapchat (29 percent, up from 17 percent last year).

Other notable findings:

  • About one-quarter of all U.S. adults (26 percent) get news from two or more social media sites, up from 18 percent in 2016 and 15 percent in 2013.
  • Snapchat has by far the youngest group of news users – 82 percent are ages 18 to 29.
  • About three-quarters of nonwhites (74 percent) get news on social media sites, up from 64 percent in 2016. For whites, the number is unchanged at 64 percent.

The Pew report is based on a survey of 4,971 respondents from Aug. 8 to 21.


Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images


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