Growing numbers of Americans are getting news from social media, but most of them don’t think social media is a valuable source of news, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, which surveyed 2,035 U.S. adults in March.
Pew, which delivered these results with a “go figure” shrug, found that the proportion of Twitter users who get news from the social site increased from 52% in 2013 to 63% in 2015, while the proportion among Facebook users rose from 47% to 63% over the same period. Within the 2015 figures, the share who said they use the social platforms to keep up with news as it was happening was 59% for Twitter and 31% for Facebook, reflecting the microblogging platform’s minute-by-minute structure.
It’s worth remembering that overall 17% of U.S. adults currently use Twitter, and 66% use Facebook, the actual numbers for Facebook will be considerably higher, even though the proportions are lower. Thus one in ten American adults gets news on Twitter, while 41% get news on Facebook. An overlapping group of 8% gets news from both sites.
But as noted, social media users are also pretty skeptical about these platforms’ value as news sources. Among people who said they use the sites for news, 60% said they were “not a very important way I get news” for both Twitter and Facebook. Meanwhile 32% said Twitter was “an important way I get news,” and 36% said the same for Facebook; the latter figure is down slightly from 39% in 2013.
At the same time, younger users are more likely to say the sites are useful for news. Among news users ages 18-34, 49% said Facebook and Twitter are an important, or the most important, way they get news. That compares to just 31% and 34% for news users ages 35 and up.