How Do Facebook, Twitter Users Consume News? (Report)

Roughly the same percentage of Facebook and Twitter users, 63 percent, view the respective social networks as news sources, but 59 percent of Twitter users follow breaking news, compared with just 31 percent for Facebook.

Roughly the same percentage of Facebook and Twitter users, 63 percent, view the respective social networks as news sources, but 59 percent of Twitter users follow breaking news on that platform, compared with just 31 percent for Facebook.

Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults for their new study, The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook, and their other findings included:

  • The 63 percent figure for both social networks was up considerably from 52 percent for Twitter and 47 percent for Facebook in 2013.
  • Use of Twitter as a news source rose for both users under 35 (67 percent, compared with 55 percent in 2013) and over 35 (59 percent versus 47 percent).
  • Use of Facebook as a news source grew among both men (61 percent versus 44 percent in 2013) and women (65 percent, up from 49 percent).
  • 46 percent of Twitter users follow news organizations, reporters or commentators, compared with just 28 percent for Facebook.
  • 32 percent of Facebook users said they post about government and politics, and 28 percent comment on those posts, while those figures for Twitter were just 25 percent and 13 percent (replying to tweets), respectively.
  • Twitter and Facebook users saw news about the following topics at roughly the same rates: community people and events; local weather and traffic; entertainment; crime; local government; science and technology; and health and medicine.
  • Four topics saw greater rates on Twitter: national government and politics (72 percent versus 61 percent); international affairs (63 percent versus 51 percent); business (55 percent versus 42 percent); and sports (70 percent versus 55 percent).
  • Users with household incomes under $75,000 per year were more likely to post about news on both social networks than higher-income households were.

Pew Research Center director of journalism research Amy Mitchell said in a release announcing the study:

As social networking sites recognize and adapt to their role in the news environment, each will offer unique features. These different ways of connecting with news have implications for how Americans learn about the world and their communities, and for how they take part in the democratic process.

Knight Foundation director for strategy and assessment Jon Sotsky added:

The sizable increase in news consumption on Twitter and Facebook since 2013 corresponds with new initiatives and features both platforms have introduced to promote access and engagement with media content. Exploring how news consumption through social media can shape how people interact with, respond and react to the news will be critical for news providers and others interested in advancing the real-world impact of journalism.

Readers: What did you think of the findings by Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation?

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