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Social media as a platform for news

Social media’s importance as platform for news is falling

Social media’s popularity as a place where people often get news is falling but half of US adults get news at least sometimes from social media. 17% say they often get news that way, down from 23% in 2020 and 19% in 2021, according to a news platform report from Pew Research Center. Women make up a greater portion of regular news consumers on Facebook.

For those who regularly get news on social media, Facebook outpaces all other social media sites. 31% say they regularly get news from Facebook. 

A quarter regularly get news from YouTube, while smaller shares get news from Twitter (14%), Instagram (13%), TikTok (10%), Reddit (8%), LinkedIn (4%), Snapchat (4%), Nextdoor (4%), WhatsApp (3%) or Twitch (1%).

On several of the social media sites, adults under 30 make up the largest share of those who regularly get news on the site, the report shows. For example, half or more of regular news consumers on Snapchat (67%), TikTok (52%) and Reddit (50%) are ages 18 to 29. Additionally, women make up a greater portion of regular news consumers on Facebook, while the opposite is true for sites like Twitter and Reddit.

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“Some partisan differences also arise when it comes to who regularly gets news on some social media sites. The majority of regular news consumers on many sites are Democrats or lean Democratic. No social media site included  has regular news consumers who are more likely to be Republicans or lean Republican.”

82% of US adults say they often or sometimes get news from a smartphone, computer or tablet but the number who often get news this way is falling. 49% of them say they do so often, down from 51% in 2021 and 60% in 2020. The portion that gets news from digital devices continues to outpace those who get news from television, the report shows. 

“The portion of Americans who often get news from television has also decreased, from 40% in 2020 to 31% in 2022. Americans turn to radio and print publications for news far less frequently than to digital devices and television.”

When asked which of these platforms they prefer to get news on, about half of Americans say they prefer a digital device (53%), more than say they prefer TV (33%). Even fewer Americans prefer radio (7%) or print (5%). These percentages have stayed mostly consistent since 2020.

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The report says today, news websites, apps and search engines are the digital pathways most Americans get news from at least sometimes. Half of Americans at least sometimes get news from social media, and about a quarter (23%) say the same of podcasts.

Among digital platforms, news websites or apps are the most preferred source for news: 23% prefer to get their news this way, compared with 13% who prefer social media, 12% who prefer search and 4% who say they prefer podcasts. 

“The share of Americans who prefer to get news from each type of digital platform has not substantially changed from 2021 or 2020”, the report says.

“News consumption across platforms varies by age, gender, race, ethnicity, educational attainment and political leaning. Americans under 50 are more likely to turn to digital devices and prefer them for getting news than are those 50 and older. Conversely, Americans 50 and older are more likely to turn to and prefer television.”

67% of women get news at least sometimes from TV compared to 62% for men, radio 46% for women and 48% for men, print 32% for women and 33% for men and digital devices 81% for women and 83% for men.

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