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Reading the news on social media

The importance of news on social media

The importance of news on social media is controversial. Surveys show that social media’s importance as a news source is falling but that there are exceptions. The number of Americans reading news on Chinese-owned  TikTok has trebled over two years. Facebook is a top source for news. 31% in the US say they regularly get news from Facebook. Women make up a greater portion of regular news consumers on Facebook. At the same time, Meta is reported to move away from investments in news content on its apps Facebook, Instagram etc.

Meta has been reported to next year be ending support for Instant Articles, a mobile format launched in 2015 offering fast load of news articles on the Facebook app. News service Axios reported about the ending of Instant Articles and that Meta is cutting funding for US news publishers. 

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A Meta spokesperson in a statement commented to the reports:

“Currently less than 3% of what people around the world see in Facebook’s Feed are posts with links to news articles. And as we said earlier this year, as a business it doesn’t make sense to over invest in areas that don’t align with user preferences.”


A recent survey from Pew Research Center shows the number of Americans reading news on Chinese-owned TikTok is still relatively small but has trebled. In just two years. The share of US adults who say they regularly get news from TikTok has roughly tripled, from 3% in 2020 to 10% in 2022. 

This is in contrast with many other social media sites, where news consumption has either declined or stayed about the same in recent years, Pew Research Center reports. 

“The video-sharing platform has reported high earnings the past year and has become especially popular among teens – two-thirds of whom report using it in some way – as well as young adults.”


“Adults under 30 are the most likely group to say they regularly get news on TikTok. 26% of Americans in this age group say they regularly get news there, higher than in 2021 and 2020. This compares with 10% of those ages 30 to 49, 4% of those 50 to 64 and just 1% of those 65 and older.”

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“More of TikTok’s US adult users are getting news there as well. Currently, a third of TikTok users say they regularly get news on the site, up from 22% who said the same in 2020. Still, TikTok users remain far less likely than users of Twitter or Facebook to get news on the site.”

An earlier report from Pew Research has shown social media’s popularity as a place where people often get news is falling. Still  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. 

For those who regularly get news on social media, Facebook outpaces all other social media sites. 31% say they regularly get news from Facebook. Women make up a greater portion of regular news consumers on 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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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.


Alternative social media attract a small but loyal base of news consumers. Alternative social media news consumers are more likely overall to favour free speech rules than protection against false or offensive content. 6% of US adults regularly get news from alternative social media, according to a survey by Pew Research Center. The study comprises Ex-president Donald Trump’s Truth Social, BitChute, Gab, Getter, Parler, Rumble and Telegram.

Rapper Ye, more known under his previous name Kayne West, has announced he is buying social media Parler. His deal with Parler’s mother company was published after Ye had his accounts at Twitter and Instagram restricted because he used them for antisemitic comments. 

Parler is known for saying it is opposing restrictions of free speech indicating that other sites’ moderations and rules against hate and violence restrict free speech. 

Only 1% of Americans say they regularly get news on Parler. Overall, just 6% of Americans regularly get news from at least one of the seven alternative social media sites and no single site is used for news by more than 2% of U.S. adults.


Nearly two-thirds of alternative social media news consumers (64%) favour the protection of free speech even if it brings with it some false content, while 61% of all U.S. adults  prefer that tech companies take steps to restrict this kind of content even if it limits freedom of information, the Pew report says.

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“In recent years, several new options have emerged in the social media universe, many of which explicitly present themselves as alternatives to more established social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – especially by opposing free speech restrictions they say are rife at those sites”, the Pew survey says.

Donald Trump’s use of social media, especially during the mob’s attack on the Capitol Hill aimed at preventing confirmation of that Trump had lost the presidential election, led to a wide discussion about what can be said, and what cannot be said, on social media. Several of Trump’s accounts were blocked as he was considered to have inspired violence.

Although fewer than one-in-ten Americans say they use any of these sites for news, most who do say they have found a community of like-minded people there. 

“And news consumers on the four sites with large enough numbers to be analyzed individually – Parler, Rumble, Telegram and Truth Social – largely say they are satisfied with their experience getting news on the sites, that they find the information there to be mostly accurate, and that the discussions are mostly friendly.”

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