September 23, 2022
Among American adults who regularly look to social media for news, Facebook outpaces all other sources, according to a study from Pew Research, which found 31 percent of U.S. adults claim to “regularly get news” from the Meta Platforms site. Google’s YouTube was second, with 25 percent, followed by Twitter (14 percent), Instagram (13 percent) and TikTok (10 percent). Examined as a percentage of each site’s total adult users seeking news there, news-seekers, Twitter popped at 53 percent, followed by Facebook (44 percent), Reddit (37 percent) and TikTok (33 percent). Among that subset, TikTok was the fastest-growing, up from 22 percent in 2020.
TikTok was one of only three social sites where news consumption grew, the other being Instagram (up from 28 percent in 2020 to 29 percent in 2022) and Twitch (from 11 to 13 percent). The Pew Social Media and News Fact Sheet compared July to July periods starting in 2020.
Of the 11 sites mentioned, Facebook had the steepest news decline during the two-year period, falling from 54 to 44 percent. Twitter had the second-biggest plunge, from 59 to 53 percent. Pew included Nextdoor for the first time in 2022.
“This data suggests TikTok has grown from being just an entertainment platform for lip syncs, dances, and comedy to one that many of its users turn to in order to learn about what’s happening in their world,” says TechCrunch, adding, “that may raise concerns, given TikTok’s connections to China — a topic it was recently pressed to clarify in a Senate hearing focused on national security.“
Although the Pew survey was limited to those 18 and older, TechCrunch writes that “if TikTok were to become one of the primary ways younger people in the U.S. learned about news and current events, then the app could potentially provide a channel for a foreign power to influence those users’ beliefs with subtle tweaks to its algorithm.”
Surprisingly, of the age groups measured, the largest percentage of regular U.S. social media news consumers in 2022 was Snapchat’s 18-29 year-olds, at 67 percent. TikTok’s 52 percent in that demo came in second. Among each site’s own users regularly consuming news, LinkedIn had the highest percentage with a formal education (60 percent).
A separate study, described as predominantly U.S., by Pew, Sparkler and YouGov found that “94 percent of people on Twitter are interested in current events, with 85 percent saying they listen to, read or watch news at least once per day, and 83 percent saying they tweet about news,” according to Adweek, which reports “three out of four respondents who come to Twitter for news do so at least once daily.”
Meanwhile, the websites of local news outlets across the nation, including magazines and broadcast sites, have experienced an 8.6 percent decline in page views so far this year, according to Poynter, which says the number is closer to 20 percent for local newspapers.
“All this hits as print revenues — both subscriptions and advertising — are falling fast at local newspapers and digital gains continue not to make up the difference,” writes Poynter, noting Gannett laid off 400 employees after a Q2 loss of $54 million.