Getting Your News From Facebook, Without Even Knowing It

By Chris Ariens 

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Facebook is increasingly becoming a source of news, according to a new study from the Pew Research Journalism Project, but the benefit to network news divisions is yet to be seen.

“People go to Facebook to share personal moments – and they discover the news almost incidentally,” said Amy Mitchell, Pew’s director of journalism research. “The serendipitous nature of news on Facebook may actually increase its importance as a source of news and information, especially among those who do not follow the news closely.” The new survey finds that roughly two-thirds (64%) of U.S. adults use Facebook, and half of those users (47%) “ever” get news there.

Here’s what else the study of 5,173 adults conducted in late August and early September, found:

  • 42% of Facebook news consumers often watch local TV news, as do 46% of all U.S. adults.
  • 23% often watch cable news, compared with 24% of all U.S. adults.
  • 21% often read print newspapers, compared with 27% of the population overall.

But the fact that news outlets share their stories on Facebook is not of great interest to Facebook users.

If a news organization links to a story on Facebook, only 20% of people say that’s reason enough to click on it. The biggest single reason people click on links (at 70%) is interest in the topic. 51% will click because the story is entertaining, 50% because it’s surprising. 37% say a friend’s recommendation is a major reason.

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