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Facebook and YouTube Dominate Social Use

A new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults, by Aaron Smith and Monica Anderson, finds that the social media landscape in early 2018 is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives.

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According to the report, Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and 45% are Twitter users.

As has been the case since the Center began surveying about the use of different social media in 2012, Facebook remains the primary platform for most Americans. 68% of U.S. adults now report that they are Facebook users, and roughly three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook.

The video-sharing site YouTube is now used by nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults and 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds. And the median American reports that they use three of the eight major platforms that the Center measured in this survey.

Different social media platforms show varied growth. Facebook remains the most widely used social media platform by a relatively healthy margin. 68% of U.S. adults are now Facebook users. Other than the video-sharing platform YouTube, none of the other sites or apps measured in this survey are used by more than 40% of Americans.

As was true in previous Pew Research Center surveys of social media use, there are substantial differences in social media use by age. 88% of 18- to 29-year-olds indicate that they use any form of social media. That share falls to 78% among those ages 30 to 49, to 64% among those ages 50 to 64 and to 37% among Americans 65 and older.

At the same time, there are pronounced differences in the use of various social media platforms withinthe young adult population as well. Americans ages 18 to 24 are substantially more likely to use platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter even when compared with those in their mid- to late-20s. 

These differences are especially notable when it comes to Snapchat: 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds are Snapchat users, but that share falls to 54% among those ages 25 to 29.

With the exception of those 65 and older, Facebook is used by a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups. But other platforms appeal more strongly to certain subsets of the population. In addition to the age-related differences in the use of sites such as Instagram and Snapchat noted above, these are some of the more prominent examples:

  • Pinterest remains substantially more popular with women (41% of whom say they use the site) than with men (16%).
  • LinkedIn remains especially popular among college graduates and those in high-income households. Some 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just 9% of those with a high school diploma or less.
  • The messaging service WhatsApp is popular in Latin America, and this popularity also extends to Latinos in the United States. 49% of Hispanics report that they are WhatsApp users, compared with 14% of whites and 21% of blacks.
  • For more details on social media platform use by different demographic groups, see here.

For additional information, please visit here.

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