Half of U.S. adults currently get their news from social media, but their preferred platforms have shifted in recent years.
A new study from the Pew Research Center reveals that TikTok and Instagram have become more popular as news sources since 2020, while X, formerly Twitter, and Facebook have grown less popular for news content.
Despite the shift, Facebook remains the most popular social media site for news, with 30% of American adults regularly getting their news from the platform, followed by 26% looking to YouTube. Instagram lags in third, with 16% of Americans regularly getting their news from the site, with TikTok (14%) and X (12%) following closely behind.
The number of adults who receive their news from social media has remained roughly the same since 2020 – hovering around 50% – but the platforms they turn to have dramatically shifted.
TikTok has gained the most popularity, with only 22% of its users getting news from the platform in 2020, while now 43% of users regularly consume their news on the site. Instagram has seen a similar – though less dramatic – increase rising from 28% of their users finding news on the site in 2020 to 34% in 2023.
X and Facebook, meanwhile, have seen their influence drop. X fell from 59% of users turning to the site for news in 2020 to 53% in 2023. Meanwhile, Facebook has fallen from 54% in 2020 to 43% in 2023.
The Pew study also revealed a significant difference in where different demographics turn for their news. Women are more likely to consume their news from Nextdoor, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, while men turn to Reddit, X and YouTube.
As for the political divide, Democrats or people who lean Democrat were more likely to consume their news through social media than Republicans or those who lean Republican. However, there was no significant partisan difference on many of the sites. However, Reddit, TikTok and Instagram showed a large political difference in who turns to the site for their news.
Axios noted, “Roughly one-third of adults under age 30 regularly scroll TikTok for news, a 255% increase since 2020.”
A study conducted by Reuters added that “20% of 18- to 24-year-olds” turn to TikTok for their news. The study also stated that “old-fashioned” news sources are not likely to make a comeback due to younger generations’ use of social media.
A new survey conducted by Variety’s VIP+ explored how social media is slowly becoming people’s No. 1 news source and the danger that that poses to unbiased information.
More recently, legislators have worked to hold big tech companies like Meta and Twitter accountable for their business models, which has proven to censor some news and push other news to the forefront.
This has resulted in a unique unification between democratic and republican legislators, who bind that Big Tech overreach is detrimental to the country as a whole.
“Results from VIP+’s partnership with GetWizer on the ‘Demographic Divide’ report suggest that, especially among younger consumers, social media has a strong level of influence for news and thus may be deserving of more formal oversight,” Variety wrote of their findings.
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