How much news is really in Facebook’s “News” Feed? What sort of posts do people see when they quickly check Facebook in bed in the morning, when they peek at it in line for lunch, when they scroll through while on the toilet (let’s all be honest with each other here)?
So Nieman Lab surveyed the Facebook habits of, and got real News Feed samples from, 402 people ages 18 or older in the United States.
The findings were remarkable, given how large Facebook looms in news industry discussions about our disrupted present and future:
Half the people in our survey saw no news at all in the first 10 posts — even using an extremely generous definition of “news” (from celebrity gossip to sports scores to history-based explainers, across all mediums; our count included any news shared by the publishers themselves, other pages, or individuals, and sponsored publisher content).
Another 23 percent saw only one piece of news content. Sixteen percent saw two. Exactly one person out of 402 had news stories make up the majority of their feed (eight news items).
Of the 384 total news-related posts that surfaced in my sample, half were shared by someone other than the original publisher, whether by friends or a non-news page (e.g., by a friend in a Deplorables Facebook group, or by a Buffalo Bills fan page). Only 4 percent of the news posts in our sample came directly from publishers, though the range of publishers represented was pretty wide. Non-news ads and non-news posts from non-news pages made up the rest of the 4,020 total posts in our sample.