Facebook and Twitter on the rise as sources of news in the US

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Facebook and Twitter are increasingly influential sources of news for their users, according to a survey conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center.

Its study of more than 2,000 Americans found that for both social networks, 63% of users surveyed said they were getting news there – up from 52% for Twitter and 47% for Facebook in 2013.

With 66% of US adults currently using Facebook and 17% using Twitter, that indicates that one in 10 Americans are getting news from Twitter, while four in 10 are getting it from Facebook.

“These changes can be tied to many factors including personal behavior, increased activity by news organisations, as well as changes in the platforms’ filtering algorithms or content structures,” claimed the report’s authors.

They added that the trend cuts across demographics including gender, race, age, education and household income. “There was not, in other words, any one demographic driving the shift.”

Pew also dug into how people are using Twitter and Facebook for news, and what kind of news they are finding on the two services.

A growing number of American adults get their news from Facebook and Twitter.
A growing number of American adults get their news from Facebook and Twitter. Illustration: Pew Research Center

Twitter is more popular for breaking news: 59% of people who get their news from that social network say they use it to keep up with breaking news events, compared to 31% for Facebook.

On both platforms, entertainment is the most popular news category: 78% of Twitter news users and 74% of Facebook news users report regularly seeing posts about it on these services.

National government and politics (72% of Twitter news users and 61% of Facebook news users); sports (70% and 55% respectively); and local people and events (63% and 69%) are also popular topics.

“Roughly a quarter of both Facebook (28%) and Twitter (23%) news users at least sometimes post or tweet about news,” added the report, which also noted differences in the importance ascribed to the social networks as news sources, according to age.

49% of Twitter news users aged 18-34 say it’s the most or an important way they get news, versus 31% of people aged 35 and older. For Facebook, the respective percentages are 49% and 34%.

“This reinforces findings from another recent report by Pew Research, which found that Facebook was relied on as a source for political news among Millennials more than any other news source, and at a far higher rate than both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers,” claimed the authors.

The study will be pored over by news organisations, as both Facebook and Twitter are upping their efforts to deliver news to their users.

Facebook recently launched its Instant Articles initiative, which hosts stories of partner organisations (including the Guardian) on the social network, and shares advertising revenues with them.

Twitter, meanwhile, has its “Project Lightning” that will organise tweets, photographs and videos around specific news events – from sports matches and award shows to natural disasters and terrorist attacks – to make them easier for users to browse.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 15th July 2015 10.10 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010