A study of social media as a news source found that 59% of adults in the US believe the information shared on social platforms is inaccurate.
The Pew Research Center surveyed over 9,000 Americans about their use of social media to keep up with current events.
About half of adults in the US (53%) say they receive either “often” or “sometimes” messages from social media. Only 21% of respondents say they have not received any messages from social media at all.
Despite the number of Americans turning to social media for news, there is great suspicion of the accuracy of the information being shared.
Could this be because of the specific websites people get their messages from?
The Pew Research Center report has specific data for each social media site, including the percentage of Americans who use each site as a news source.
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The results of the survey are broken down by demographics and provide information about the age groups and educational level of those who regularly use social media for the news.
Here are some of the key findings from the report.
News inaccurate on social media?
The Pew Research Center reports that only 39% of those who receive their messages on social media expect the information to be accurate.
That means that more than half of adults in the United States who use social media to receive messages question its accuracy before reading a single article.
It seems that what they find isn't giving them the answers they're looking for. Only 30% of respondents say that social media helps them understand current events, and 23% say it makes them more confused.
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Let's take a closer look at where they get their messages from. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Facebook is the most common source among people for receiving messages from social media.
Social media as a news source
Could the suspicion and confusion about news and current events have something to do with the sources themselves?
The Pew Research Center notes that this is the percentage of adults in the United States who use each website as a regular news source:
- Facebook – 36%
- YouTube – 23%
- Twitter – 15%
- Instagram – 11%
- Reddit – 6%
- Snapchat – 4%
- LinkedIn – 4%
- TikTok – 3%
- WhatsApp – 3%
- Tumblr – 1%
- Twitching – 1%
It's worth noting that some of these sites are more important news sources than the small numbers suggest.
Take Reddit, for example, which is used as a news source by 6% of Americans. Of the Reddit user base, 42% say they regularly use the site to get news.
This shows that Reddit is valued as a news source by a significant portion of its user base. Or, as Pew Research puts it, Reddit is “newer” than other websites.
“If we view news users as part of a website's overall user base, some websites will stand out as 'newer' even if their overall audience is relatively small. For example, Twitter is used by 25% of adults in the United States, but more than half of those users receive regular messages on the website.
And 42% of Reddit users get regular messages on the site, even though it has a very small overall user base (15% of US adults say they use Reddit). "
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Another website that is newer than you might expect is TikTok. Almost a quarter (22%) of TikTok users receive news from the website on a regular basis, which makes it a major source, even though the number of adult users is relatively small.
For more insights like this, see the full report here.