Americans are moving closer to social media as a source for news, a trend that cuts across all demographics, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, found.
According to the study, Twitter and Facebook users report seeing news about seven of 11 topics asked about in the survey at roughly the same rates: people and events in their community, local weather and traffic, entertainment, crime, local government, science and technology, and health and medicine.
Four remaining topics were seen at higher rates on Twitter: national government and politics (72 percent versus 61 percent), international affairs (63 percent versus 51 percent), business (55 percent versus 42 percent) and sports (70 percent versus 55 percent).
On Facebook, women are more likely to regularly see posts about health, entertainment, and people and events in their community, while posts about weather, entertainment, crime and health are more commonly seen by women on Twitter.
The analysis suggests that different habits and topics are more suited to different platforms. For instance, following news outlets directly is more common on Twitter, with 46 percent of Twitter users following news organizations, reporters or commentators, compared with 28 percent of Facebook users.
Jon Sotsky, Knight Foundation director of strategy and assessment, told eWEEK the survey focuses on news consumption on these two social media platforms but does not explore their prevalence in the larger social media landscape.
Asked what these findings mean about the way Americans get their news, he said it suggests that the rising share of Americans using social media has coincided with an increase in the usage of these platforms for obtaining news and information.
“We’re interested in exploring the degree to which news consumption through social media is a substitute [for] or [a] complement to other ways people consume news,” Sotsky explained.
When it comes to news and information about government and politics, Facebook users are more likely than Twitter users to post and respond to content.
About a third (32 percent) of Facebook users say they post about government and politics on Facebook, and 28 percent comment on these types of posts.
In comparison, a quarter of Twitter users tweet about this news topic, and 13 percent reply to tweets on this topic posted by others.
The use of Twitter as a news source grew among both users under 35 (55 percent to 67 percent) and those 35 and older (47 percent to 59 percent).
Younger users are, however, still more likely to get news on Facebook. On Facebook, news use grew among both men (44 percent to 61 percent) and women (49 percent to 65 percent).