If You’re on a Social Network, Chances Are You’re Finding News There

Twitter-and-News_01As the saying goes, more Americans get their news from *blank* than any other source, but it’s certainly true of social media.

The Pew Research Center has a new report out today on Americans getting their news from the two social networks *. Pew polled around two thousand Americans back in March and found that similar percentages (63%) of Twitter and Facebook users got their news from social networks. That’s a major increase from a couple years ago, although it does come with a caveat (the survey group only included 300 Twitter users, compared to  1,300 FB users).

The survey also found that respondents reported finding a wider variety of news on twitter, and that they were more likely to follow a breaking news story on Twitter than on Facebook.

Curiously, the actually number of news junkies following that breaking story were far smaller than the 63% figure would suggest, and here’s where the survey group distribution  might be tripping us up. According to Pew, the absolute number of Americans who get news on Twitter were far smaller than in Facebook.


I’d always thought that Facebook inflated their user numbers but if this survey group reflects the US population then I could be wrong. And given that the common wisdom is that Facebook is the better source of traffic for news sites, the above chart is probably about right.

however, the report also reminds us that we shouldn’t overstate the value of social networks as a news source. Only a tiny fraction of Twitter users (9%) and Facebook users (4%) say it’s their most important source; the majority (60%) said that it was hardly of any use.

In fact, Facebook’s usefulness as a channel for finding news has actually decreased since 2013 (possibly as a result of Facebook monkeying with the algorithms). That is a detail wroth remembering as Facebook Instant Articles goes live later this year.

You can find the report on the Pew Research Center website.

P.S. Yes, I know there are more than two social networks, but apparently Pew does not. That’s my point.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. jjj15 July, 2015

    Do note that they only look at adults )18+) and that’s rather counterproductive in this case.

  2. fjtorres16 July, 2015

    Social media is also a good source for rumors, urban legends, product libel, and all sorts of propaganda.

    1. Tim Wilhoit16 July, 2015

      You have to admit, it’s far more efficient to post rubbish on social media than the “forward all” in spreading insane, conspiracy-laden emails. How else would the following vital information be disseminated?

      “Rupert Murdoch’s demon-possessed dog unleashes bombshell! Bigfoot takes up residence in the humble writing shanty of Douglas Preston, Esq.”

      There is more than one reason to suspect this story is untrue. First, Rupert Murdoch would probably not own an animal that wasn’t taxidermied (Stop that infernal noise, Liberty!) and second, Bigfoot has higher standards. He would never live in a place that reeks of fertilizer.

  3. Paul16 July, 2015

    It depends whether its “hot” news or not. We’ve had a surprisedly good week with our Pluto coverage on both twitter and Facebook (but also realize that NASA is the one getting the page views)


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