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Facebook is the #1 pathway to news, but majority say social media is making the news experience worse: Pew Research

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Pew Research Center has just released a report on the role of social media sites in delivering the news. 

According to Pew, getting news from social media sites is an increasingly common experience. More than half of U.S. adults get news from social media often or sometimes (55%), up from 47% in 2018. Nearly three-in-ten U.S. adults do so often.

Facebook is the dominant news source

Facebook is far and away the social media site Americans use most commonly for news, the study found. About half (52%) of all U.S. adults get news there.

The next most popular social media site for news is YouTube (28% of adults get news there), followed by Twitter (17%) and Instagram (14%). A number of other social media platforms (including LinkedIn, Reddit and Snapchat) have smaller news audiences.

According to the report, even though news on Facebook reaches most Americans, other sites have similarly large portions of their users getting news on their platforms.

Along with Facebook, Twitter and Reddit stand out as the sites where the highest proportion of users get news – 73% of Facebook’s users do so, as do 71% of Twitter’s and 62% of Reddit’s users. However, because Facebook’s overall pool of users is much larger than those of Twitter or Reddit, far more Americans overall get news on Facebook than on the other two sites.

Elisa Shearer and Elizabeth Grieco, Pew Research Center

The other sites studied – including YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tumblr, WhatsApp and Twitch – have less of a news focus among their users. Fewer than half of the users on each of these sites use the site for news.

55% say social media is making the news experience worse

Although social media is now a part of the news diet of an increasingly large share of the U.S. population, majorities say that social media companies have too much control over the news on their sites.

The report notes that the largest social media platforms control the content on their feeds using computer algorithms that rank and prioritize posts and other content tailored to the interests of each user. While social media companies say these efforts are meant to make the news experience on their sites better for everyone, most Americans think they just make things worse. 

While large social media companies have announced initiatives to favor high-quality news publishers in an effort to improve the news on their sites, the study found that most Americans feel that social media companies having control over the mix of news people see is a problem.

A majority (55%) say that the role social media companies play in delivering the news on their sites results in a worse mix of news. Only a small share (15%) say it results in a better mix of news, while about three-in-ten (28%) think their efforts make no real difference.

These findings are based on a survey conducted July 8-21, 2019, among 5,107 U.S. adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel. Click here to download the full report from Pew Research Center.