A study shows that more Americans are focusing on Facebook and Twitter for news updates.
This past May, PEW Research released a study showing that Millennials are more likely to get their political news from Facebook than previous generations. An updated study, however, indicates that Facebook and Twitter are becoming more important sources of news for more Americans.
The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook
The results of the study were based on a survey taken by more than 2,000 people during two weeks in March of 2013 and 2015. Overall, the use of Twitter and Facebook as news sources has increased. Furthermore, the results are not inclusive to Millennials; instead it permeates across all demographics. Here are some key takeaways from the report:
Twitter and Facebook news use has risen.
In 2013, 52% of Twitter users and 47% of Facebook users said they turned down the social networking sites for news. In 2015, 63% of both Twitter and Facebook users said they get news updates from beyond friends and family from the social networking sites.
Twitter is the source for breaking news.
According to the report, Americans are almost twice as likely to follow breaking news on Twitter (59%) opposed to those who do so on Facebook (31%).
For Politics, Facebook users are more likely to post and respond to content while Twitter users are more likely to follow organizations.
The study shows that 32% of Facebook users say they post about government and politics on Facebook, and 28% comment on these types of posts. That compares to a quarter of Twitter users (25%) who tweet about this news topic and 13% who reply to tweets on this topic posted by others. Likewise, 46% of Twitter users follow news organizations compared to 28% of Facebook users.
Changing Behaviors and Trends
The PEW study proves to be very interesting as organizations reevaluate the role of social media in content distribution. “These changes can be tied to many factors including personal behavior, increased activity by news organizations, as well as changes in the platforms’ filtering algorithm or content structures,” the study reported.
Over the past few months, Facebook and Twitter have put more emphasis on becoming important sources of news to Americans; and the results of the PEW study prove that their efforts are working. In May, Facebook revealed their Instant Articles feature which allows the articles from a publisher that they partner with to upload content directly on the networking site, which will reduce the load time and optimize user experience. Meanwhile, Twitter is developing “Project Lightning,” which will be available to people with or without a Twitter account. This feature provides feeds of tweets, images and videos from live events that are curated by a news team.
This study also questions how the peoples’ news consumption behavior will affect events like the upcoming Democratic Process. If Americans are obtaining the majority of their political news from social media, there could be potential problems. Social Media is overpopulated with fake and satirical news, which users could possibly mistake as the truth.
Furthermore, social media users may not be getting the entire story. Facebook has been constantly updating its news feed to provide content that interests the user. Facebook user’s can actually pick and choose what they want to see first on their news feed. If this is the case, users might be skipping over important news stories or reading jaded perspectives.
Will these new trends and behaviors have negative effects in the future? Only time will tell.
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