Tuesday, September 21, 2021

More Than Half of Twitter Users Get News On The Site Regularly

As social media and technology companies face criticism for not doing enough to stem the flow of misleading information on their platforms, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that a little under half of U.S. adults (48%) get news on social media sites “often” or “sometimes,” a 5 percentage point decline from 2020. Across the 10 social media sites asked about in this study, the percentage of users of each site who regularly get news there has remained relatively stable since 2020. However, both Facebook and TikTok buck this trend. The share of Facebook users who say they regularly get news on the site has declined 7 points since 2020, from 54% to about 47% in 2021. TikTok, on the other hand, has seen a slight uptick in the percentage of users who say they regularly get news on the site, rising from 22% in 2020 to 29% in 2021.

The survey, conducted from July 26 to Aug. 8, 2021, among 11,178 U.S. adults who are part of the Center’s American Trends Panel, also finds that White Americans make up the majority of U.S. adults who regularly get news from Facebook (60%), yet just under four-in-ten Instagram news consumers (36%) are White. Both Black and Hispanic adults make up a sizable portion of Instagram’s regular news consumers (20% and 33%, respectively).

Among the report’s other key findings:
  • Facebook continues to outpace all other social media sites, with about a third (31%) of Americans getting news there regularly. Following Facebook is the video-sharing site YouTube, with 22% of U.S. adults getting news from the site regularly. Meanwhile, Twitter and Instagram are regular news sources for 13% and 11% of Americans, respectively.
  • Americans overall are less likely to turn to some social media sites as regular news sources. Fewer than one-in-ten Americans say they regularly get news from Reddit (7%), TikTok (6%), LinkedIn (4%), Snapchat (4%), WhatsApp (3%) and Twitch (1%).
  • When looking at the proportion of each social media site’s users who regularly get news there, some social media sites stand out as being more “newsy” even if their total audience is relatively small. Twitter, for example, while used by 23% of U.S. adults, is used regularly to get news by more than half of those (55%) use it. YouTube, while more widely used (72% of U.S. adults use the site), has a smaller portion of its users regularly turning to it for news (30%).
  • The demographics of regular social media news consumers can vary drastically from site to site. People who regularly get news on Facebook are more likely to be women than men (64% vs. 35%), while two-thirds of Reddit’s regular news consumers are men. A majority of regular news consumers on LinkedIn (57%) have a four-year college degree or higher. Younger adults, those ages 18 to 29, are far more likely to regularly get news on both Snapchat and TikTok than adults in other age groups. The majority of regular news consumers of many sites are Democrats or lean Democratic. This may be related to the relatively young age profile of the news consumer base of these social media sites. No social media site included in this analysis has regular news consumers who are more likely to be Republican or lean Republican.

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