The study, which involved an online survey of more than 4,700 social media users, finds that Twitter users tend to be heavier news consumers than other social media users. News, indeed, is one of the primary activities that they engage in on the network.
Twitter users also tend to be younger than social media users in general. They tend to use the service heavily—the majority several times a day—and their use of the network is increasing how much news they consume. Almost all Twitter users are also consumers of other forms of news media.
While Twitter users follow news in general on the service, and sometimes do so just as a way of passing time, they act differently when they are following breaking news, becoming even more participatory—commenting, posting and sharing at moments when events are moving fastest.
Among the findings from the study:
- Nearly 9 in 10 Twitter users in the study (86%) say they use Twitter for news, and the vast majority of those (74%) do so daily.
- Roughly the same number of people say they use Twitter to be alerted to breaking news (40%) as to keep up with the news generally (39%).
- Three quarters of Twitter news users follow individual journalists, writers and commentators (73%) and nearly two thirds follow institutional accounts (62%). Twitter users also are very likely to discover new journalists and writers and consequently follow their work, often on other platforms beyond Twitter.
- Fully 94% of Twitter news users get their news either through scrolling their timelines or browsing tweets of those they follow. Other features are used far less often: For instance just 34% of Twitter news users say they get news from trending topics and 30% use search.
- 82% of Twitter users access the platform on their phones and many access Twitter across multiple devices.
- A majority of non-Twitter users (51%) have seen tweets. 45% on TV, 33% from friends, 27% in news articles they read, 22% from going to twitter.com without signing up, 12% from search and 8% in a newspaper.