A new study from Pew Research claims that 62 percent of people get their news from social media, with 18 percent doing so very often.
As expected, the top social media news source is Facebook.
The study claims that two-thirds of Facebook’s user base read their news on the platform, with 59 percent of Twitter users getting news on Twitter, and 70 percent of Reddit users doing the same with their respective platform.
Considering the difference in size of these user groups — Facebook reaches 67 percent of the adult American population while Twitter only reaches 16 percent — that puts Facebook on top with 44 percent of the population getting news from the network.
Comparatively, Twitter and YouTube come in second with about 10 percent of the population getting news on those platforms.
Only about a quarter of those polled (4,654 members of the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel) get news from two or more sites, and only 10 percent receive news from three or more platforms, putting overlapping audiences in the minority.
That said, between 20 percent and 30 percent of users across the top five social media sites with news audiences also get their news from television, both nightly network news and local TV. Half of Twitter and LinkedIn news consumers also seek out news from websites and apps, with around one-third of Facebook and YouTube news users doing the same.
A similar study from 2012 saw 42 percent of U.S. adults getting their news from social media, so in the past four years, news on social media has grown 20 percent. Pew also found that since 2013, social media sites with the most growth of their news audience came down to Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
This study comes at an interesting time.
The media has been in a flurry ever since Gizmodo broke the story that Facebook’s trending news topics may not be as algorithmic as we all imagined.
Former employees said that news editors routinely decided on trending news topics (before they could be detected by the trending algorithm) and that often involved suppressing conservative news topics and sources.
This led to an inquiry from the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee investigating the allegations.
After vehement denial of any bias in trending topics, Facebook announced sweeping changes three days ago to the way the Trending system works, including greater oversight for news curators and a clearer description of how the trending topics system works in the Facebook Help Center.