The share of Americans for whom Twitter and Facebook serve as a source of news is continuing to rise, coming from more current users encountering news there rather than large increases in the user base overall, according to findings from a new survey. The study also finds that users turn to each of these prominent social networks to fulfill different types of information needs.
According to the new study, conducted by Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, clear majorities of Twitter and Facebook users now say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family. That share has increased substantially from 2013, when about half of users said they got news from the social platforms.
Facebook and Twitter News Use is on the Rise (% of users who get news there)
% Getting News
% Keeping Up with News Event Live
Source: PEW Research Center, Q2 2015
Although both social networks have the same portion of users getting news on these sites, there are significant differences in their potential news distribution strengths. The proportion of users who say they follow breaking news on Twitter, for example, is nearly twice as high as those who say they do so on Facebook (59% vs. 31%), lending support to the view that Twitter’s great strength is providing as-it-happens coverage and commentary on live events.
These findings come at a time when the two social media platforms are increasing their emphasis on news, says the report. Twitter will unveil its long-rumored news feature, “Project Lightning,” that will allow anyone, whether they are a Twitter user or not, to view a feed of tweets, images and videos about live events as they happen, curated by new employees with “newsroom experience.”
And, in early 2015, Twitter purchased and launched the live video-streaming app Periscope, highlighting their focus on providing information about live events as they happen.
Meanwhile, Facebook launched Instant Articles, a trial project that allows media companies to publish stories directly to the Facebook platform instead of linking to outside sites, andFacebook started introducing its “Trending” sidebar to allow users to filter by topic and see only trending news about politics, science and technology, sports or entertainment.
As more social networking sites recognize and adapt to their role in the news environment, each will offer unique features for news users, and these features may foster shifts in news use. Those different uses around news features have implications for how Americans learn about the world and their communities, and for how they take part in the democratic process, says the report.
Among other key findings in the report:
Twitter news users are more likely than those on Facebook to report seeing news on:
Women are more likely to regularly see posts about health, entertainment and people and events in their community on Facebook, while posts about weather, entertainment, crime, and health are more commonly seen by women on Twitter
The rise in the share of social media users getting news on Facebook or Twitter cuts across nearly every demographic group.
News exposure is relatively equal within all demographic groups, with the exception of age. Though news usage among those under 35 increased at roughly the same rate as among those ages 35 and older; younger users are more likely to see news than older users on Facebook
This study is part of a series by Pew Research Center aimed at understanding how news and information habits relate to the use of Twitter and Facebook among the American public.
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