November 6, 2017Published by: Phil

Which social media do U.S. adults get their news from?

Last Thursday the Pew Research centre published new research about news consumption by U.S. adults through social media. The research shows that social media sites, led by Facebook, are still the primary source of news for a lot of U.S. adults and this trend can be seen across other countries where these social networks are similarly popular.

Research highlights

  • An increasing number of people get news from multiple sites (as opposed to a single site): 26%, up from 15% in 2013. Perhaps people are growing more sceptical of single sources, or that there are more credible options to choose from today? My colleague Jonny reminds me that a major draw of social is that people tend to trust friends more today than other sources, and so the network effect will have an impact here as popularity trends change.
  • However, there's still a massive amount of people who get their news from a single site. Of the people that use Facebook, 50% claim to get their news exclusively from that site. Insight: people are relying on heavily partisan and manipulatable sources.
  • Perhaps the most worrying - 15% of LinkedIn news users claim to get all their "news" from that site?! Who knows what these people think about the world. I guess they're just really interested in people quitting their job and having an amazing amount of success that you could emulate if you only keep believing in yourself.

Read the full blog post / press release from Pew.

Why this is increasingly relevant today

Pew Research Centre findings show half of Facebook news users get their news exclusively from that site.

Pew Research Centre

The role of social media on news and content publishers is nothing new, but my personal reaction was to apply it to that other hot topic: investigations into whether foreign nations have attempted to exert influence on recent democratic processes like the U.S. Presidential election or the Brexit vote in the UK.

For example, last week saw Facebook, Twitter and Google representatives questioned by the Senate judiciary committee and it was reported that as many as 126m U.S. voters may have seen promoted content from Russian organisations during the election.

If you're a bit of a news addict like me, you might be tempted to dismiss the influence of social advertising. Surely everyone seeks a wide variety of news from multiple sources and angles? The reality is that many people are time poor and willing to trust the news they get from Facebook and other social sites alone.


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