How Users Find, Share and React to News on Facebook

The Pew Research Center has released a study, in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, on how Facebook users interact with news on the platform.

The study found that while the majority of users still flock to the social media site to check up on family and stalk photos of their high school classmates weddings, this inevitably leads to news sharing. However, 16% of users reported being bothered when contacts post the news, even more bothersome are political agenda comments. 

Some other stats: 

  • 75% report that the news they click on through Facebook is news they’ve already encountered, and only 4% report it as their primary news source. No surprise there.
  • But Facebook is also useful to those who don’t report heavy “news diets.” From the study:

Facebook also tends to be of greater value in informing those who do not typically follow news all or most of the time. While 38% of Facebook news consumers who say they follow the news all or most of the time say Facebook is an important way they get news, the figure rises to 46% among those who say they follow news some of the time, and 48% among those who follow news less often.

  • More useful to social media pros in the newsroom is the data on how news orgs fit into this. One takeaway is to up the play on individual reporters’ pages:

Another sign of the social nature is the degree to which friends and family drive the news activity. Just a third, 34%, of Facebook news consumers even include news organizations or individual journalists and commentators directly in their feed by “liking” or following them. That means, then, that two-thirds of people who get news on Facebook have it passed along to them second, third or twentieth hand from their Facebook friends – rather than directly from news organizations.

  • As many in media probably already sense, Facebook is still not a great outlet for breaking news, with just 21% reporting that they follow breaking news there. Even more surprising is that local news doesn’t get much action, either. Human interest pieces in town come in at 65%, while local politics and government at 44%

There’s a lot of useful insights here as to how news is passed around on various social media sites. But as organizations expand their digital presence, knowing how users react to, share, and seek out information, on kinda-sorta media companies like Facebook, broad data like this is useful. What’s your take on the study and the methodology?

Image via Pew Research Journalism Project