For millions of people across the United States, particularly younger consumers, getting news via social media is now a way of life. In general, social network usage frequency is high, with 30 to 50 percent of major platforms’ users accessing their sites several times per day. At the same time, the regularity with which consumers use social media for news has grown.
Who uses social media for the news the most?
A 2022 survey on social media news consumption found that over 40 percent of millennials and 50 percent of Gen Z used social networks for news every day, and a similar share of Gen X respondents did the same. Even among boomers, the least likely group to get news this way, the share keeping up to date via social media on a daily basis was above 25 percent. Gen Z, though, remain the most avid social media news users in the United States.
Whilst it is unsurprising that digital natives are more inclined to get information about current affairs from their preferred social site than other outlets, data from the same survey found that consumption also varied according to ethnicity. This trend is less clear-cut. For example, a breakdown of data on social media news consumption by ethnicity revealed that Hispanic and Black adults were more frequent social media news users than white and Asian Americans. The key takeaway from the survey, however, was that respondents from all demographics engaged with social media news very or semi-regularly. Social networks were in fact the main source of news for Gen Z, ranking above all other options including television and online-only news sites.
The most popular social networks for news
According to the results of an annual survey, the leading social network used for news in the United States in each year from 2019 to 2021 was Facebook, but in the latter year, YouTube ranked a very close second. Indeed, the gap between the share of respondents using each platform for news closes each year, whereas the percentage who report using Facebook Messenger, Instagram, or WhatsApp remained under 10 percent respectively during the same period.
Also of note is that news consumption via certain networks differs substantially according to the age of the user. For example, the share of Facebook news consumers aged 50 or above stood at more than 35 percent in 2021, almost double the percentage of Twitter news users in that age bracket. Twitter’s news audience skewed much younger – more than 40 percent were aged under 30 years old. This has to do with the age of users accessing social media platforms in general – the majority of frequent Tweeters are aged 18 to 29 years old, whereas Facebook attracts older users and has only a small teenage audience.
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