Despite fake news in our social feeds making headlines over the past year, an increasing number of Americans—67 percent to be exact— are using social media to get their news, according to recent findings published by the Pew Research Center.
Nearly 5,000 Americans were surveyed, and the results speak to how social media-driven our society is today. In addition to more people using social media to stay in the know on current events, the group of people staying informed via their feeds is getting more diverse, with 74 percent of nonwhite Americans saying that they rely on social media for their news, a 10 percent increase from 2016. The age of social-media-for-news users is also changing, as 55 percent of adults over the age of 50 reported using social media to track news, compared to 45 percent in 2016. In contrast, the percentage of individuals with a college degree or advanced degrees who got their news from social media decreased slightly from 2016 to 2017.
While the concept of getting news from our social feeds isn’t as surprising as it would have been just 5 to 10 years ago, the specific platforms Americans are using to get their news is. Facebook—despite it’s less than squeaky clean record in the fake news department—still serves as the leading social media platform for news with 45 percent of Americans surveyed by Pew getting their news from it. Surprisingly, YouTube claimed the second spot over Twitter and Instagram, with 18 percent of Americans visiting the site to watch the news. Even though it came in third in terms of total respondents using it for news (11 percent said they took to Twitter to stay current), Twitter saw the largest increase in existing users saying they use the platform for the purposes of getting news. That number jumped from half of users in 2016 to 74 percent in 2017, a statistic that Recode writer Kurt Wagner speculates could be the result of President Trump’s preference for breaking news (among other choice activities) on the platform.
Regardless of which platform(s) you check during your daily news sweep, it’s important to stay vigilant on what’s true, what’s not and what’s somewhere in between. Reading an article in its entirety or fact checking a source are simple ways to help prevent the spread of fake news in your feed.
Learn more about the findings here.