I’m sure you’ve heard this many times around you, and you’ve seen it for yourself. News publications have been more present on social media than ever before because. Apparently, people consume them.
But how large is this phenomenon, and how much do people want news on their social media networks?
In this article, we’ll explore that very question and look at a by-country analysis of the share of adults who actively seek out news on their social media platforms (as of February 2022).
Here’s a quick chart of news consumption preferences of US adults in the 2020-2022 period:
|US Adult Preferences on News Consumption||2020||2021||2022|
|Never gets digital news from anywhere||7%||9%||8%|
|Never gets digital news on social media||21%||24%||21%|
|Rarely gets digital news on social media||18%||19%||20%|
|Sometimes gets digital news on social media||30%||29%||33%|
|Often gets digital news on social media||23%||19%||17%|
Based on the chart, there appears to be a trend where people don’t get their news from social media as often.
From 2020 to 2022, 6% fewer people say that they often get their news from social media. Moreover, an additional 2% say that they rarely do that.
I’ll also look at news consumption in the US by every social media platform and see which ones are used more frequently for this purpose.
It’ll also be interesting to see the genders, ages, races, political inclinations, and education of people who are regular news consumers on social media.
All of that is below 😀
Social Media News Consumption Per Country in February 2022
Based on a 2022 survey posted by Statista, we have data that shows the share of adults who use social media as a source of news per individual country. See it below:
|Country||% of Adults Using Social Media for News|
It’s quite interesting to see that countries like the United States, France, Germany, and Japan are at the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to social media users getting their news from the platforms.
Only 42% of adults get their news from social media in the US, and only 32% do the same in Germany.
Japan is at the bottom of the list, with 28% of social media users checking for the news on their platforms. Why is that? Do people not trust social media as a news distributor?
Well, I hope I can answer this question for the US, at least. Down below!
Which Social Platforms Do US Adults Get News From?
I’m basing my research on a study conducted by the Pew Research center in 2022 that looked at the average news consumption of US adults based on the social media platform they used.
Here are the findings in a nutshell:
|Social Media Platform||% of US Adults who Use the Platform||% Of US Adults who Get News on the Platform|
So, 70% of all US adults are using Facebook, but only 31% use the platform for the primary purpose of getting news from it.
Some social networks appear to be favored compared to others, and it’s not always the most used platform that’s also used for getting the news.
For instance, even though more people use YouTube than Facebook in America, fewer people will get their news from YouTube compared to Facebook.
There’s also the case of Twitter which not many Americans are using (around 27%), yet 14% of all US adults get their news from the platform, which is quite something.
Around 53% of all Twitter users get their news from the platform, according to the Pew Research Center.
Year-Over-Year News Consumption on Social Media in the US
In this section, we’ll be looking at the percentage of each social media platform’s userbase that regularly gets their news from those platforms from 2020 to 2022.
|Social Media Platform||2020||2021||2022|
|Twitter users who regularly get their news from the platform||59%||55%||53%|
|Facebook users who regularly get their news from the platform||54%||47%||44%|
|Reddit users who regularly get their news from the platform||42%||39%||37%|
|YouTube users who regularly get their news from the platform||32%||30%||30%|
|Instagram users who regularly get their news from the platform||28%||27%||29%|
|TikTok users who regularly get their news from the platform||22%||29%||33%|
|Snapchat users who regularly get their news from the platform||19%||16%||15%|
|LinkedIn users who regularly get their news from the platform||15%||14%||13%|
|WhatsApp users who regularly get their news from the platform||13%||14%||10%|
|Twitch users who regularly get their news from the platform||11%||13%||13%|
Other than Instagram and TikTok, where the number of users who get their news from the platforms grew, every other platform is on a decline.
The steepest decline is in Facebook’s case, where 10% fewer people get their news from the platform in 2022 compared to 2020.
This might be due to the misinformation and fake news streaks that have been going on in recent years.
I’ll get into the deeper layers of news consumption on social media (and my honest opinion about it) in the end section, but for now, let’s just keep going with the stats.
Demographic Overview of US News Consumers on Social Media
This is where we’ll get into a bit more detail about the news consumption among US adults on social media – their age, gender, education level, race, and political leaning.
I think this might offer some food for thought on certain issues.
Here’s the data chart:
|% of Men||35%||55%||57%||37%||37%||67%||52%||38%||33%|
|% of Women||63%||43%||40%||60%||59%||29%||46%||57%||66%|
|% of 18-29 year-olds||26%||31%||42%||46%||52%||50%||28%||67%||12%|
|% of 30-49 year-olds||40%||38%||37%||38%||35%||41%||40%||29%||37%|
|% 50-64 of year-olds||21%||19%||16%||10%||11%||7%||24%||3%||27%|
|% of 65+ year-olds||13%||11%||5%||5%||2%||2%||8%||1%||25%|
|% with high school or less||43%||40%||27%||37%||45%||26%||17%||42%||29%|
|% with some college||31%||34%||31%||30%||35%||34%||23%||37%||34%|
|% with college+||26%||26%||42%||33%||19%||40%||60%||20%||37%|
|% Asian (English-speaking ones)||5%||8%||9%||10%||6%||13%||11%||9%||10%|
There’s a whole lot to unpack here. First of all, it seems that, on average, women tend to get their news from social media more so than men.
The trend is there – in 5 out of 9 social media platforms assessed, more women than men get their news from the platform (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Nextdoor).
Based on age, some platforms appeal more to younger users, some offer broader appeal across multiple ages, and others are more for seniors. Facebook and YouTube are the most “inclusive” in terms of age.
Based on education, there seems to be a general downtrend of people who get their news from social media the more academically educated they are.
The exceptions are Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Nextdoor, where there’s an uptrend instead.
TikTok suffers from the sharpest downtrend of fewer people with superior education (college+) who get their news from the platform.
Only 19% do that. Now, I’ll leave you that bit of information to ruminate on…
In terms of race, white people tend to get their news from social media in overwhelming numbers compared to black, Hispanic, and Asian people.
On average, Asian people are extremely unlikely to get their news from social media, based on the chart above.
Lastly, in terms of political affiliation, the chart shows that Democrats (or Democrat-leaning people) are more likely to get their news from TikTok compared to Republicans.
In TikTok’s case, 33% of Republicans and an astounding 63% of Democrats get their news from the Chinese-owned platform.
That’s quite worrying if you ask me. It should be beyond clear that TikTok is not the sort of platform you should be getting your news from, no matter which side of the political sphere you lean toward.
Psst… Democrats, stop getting so much of your news from there 😀
US Adults’ Level of Trust on Social Media News
The Pew Research Center conducted a survey in October 2022 where it asked US adults under 30 how much they trusted news from social media as opposed to national news organizations and local news organizations.
Here’s a summary of that data for 18-29 year-olds:
- In 2016, 71% said they trusted local news organizations, 62% said they trusted national news organizations, and 44% said they trusted social media sites
- In 2022, 62% said they trusted local news organizations, 56% said they trusted national news organizations, and 50% said they trusted social media sites
And for 30-49 year-olds:
- In 2016, 83% said they trusted local news organizations, 77% said they trusted national news organizations, and 38% said they trusted social media sites
- In 2022, 70% said they trusted local news organizations, 58% said they trusted national news organizations, and 36% said they trusted social media sites
Now for 50-64 year-olds:
- In 2016, 84% said they trusted local news agencies, 79% said they trusted national news agencies, and 32% said they trusted social media sites
- In 2022, 73% said they trusted local news agencies, 62% said they trusted national news agencies, and 25% said they trusted social media sites
Finally, for 65+ year-olds:
- In 2016, 87% said they trusted local news agencies, 85% said they trusted national news agencies, and 18% said they trusted social media sites
- In 2022, 79% said they trusted local news agencies, 67% said they trusted national news agencies, and 20% said they trusted social media sites
On average, trust in social media as a source of information or news is pretty low, except for those under 30. They tend to put a lot of trust in platforms like Facebook or Twitter to get their news.
It seems that, in 2022, the older you got, the less trust you had in social media to get your news (50% of people under 30, then 36% of people aged 30-49, then 25% of people aged 50-64, and 20% of people aged 65+).
It also seems that, as the years go by, people are starting to trust local and national news agencies less and less.
Not a surprise, to be honest, considering how many news agencies are politically biased and don’t offer just objective facts anymore.
My View on Social Media as a News Source
Based on my experience with social media, two things are very pervasive:
- The predominance of fake news and misleading information posted by ill-intended individuals
- Political bias creates echo chambers that provide inaccurate and biased information.
However, there’s a difference between getting your information on social media from random commentators or from legit news publications that you know and trust.
Essentially, there’s no difference between buying a physical newspaper or magazine from BBC or viewing the news on Facebook.
It’s the same news outlet, so it’s going to have the same news, whether in print or online.
What I’m mostly worried about is how people tend to get their news (and information in general) from non-accredited sources like random commentators and ideologues pushing a certain agenda.
If you’re not aware of someone’s bias (and you’re most often not), then you may be misled by heavily-biased information.
Social media allows much fake news and misleading information to go through, but the most poisonous phenomenon is the magnitude of biases when presenting the information.
Biases don’t technically classify as fake news; they’re simply someone’s interpretation of the facts. But what’s most important is – are those interpretations rational, factual, and as objective as possible? Or do they stem from that person’s personal prejudices?
This is where the information you find on social media takes a turn for the worse. The “much” worse…
Bias prevails almost everywhere you look because social media tends to be dominated by bipartisanism. Conservatism and liberalism, indeed.
Most importantly, it’s almost impossible not to get swept up in political debating and skewer your objectivity of the facts on social media.
The comment section is where all the ideological keyboard wars are fought at. And trust me, when you go down those rabbit holes, you’ll slowly turn into an ideologue yourself.
Impartiality is a priceless perk in this day and age, and social media only serves to break apart that impartiality. At least in my experience.
Anyway, that’s all for today. I hope this guide has been of some help to you. Cheers!
- Pew Research Center – Social Media and News Fact Sheet
- Statista – Share of Adults Who Use Social Media as a Source of News in Selected Countries Worldwide as of February 2022
- Pew Research Center – U.S. Adults Under 30 Now Trust Information from Social Media Almost as Much as from National News Outlets