October 24, 2013

The Role of News on Facebook

The Facebook News Experience

Facebook News Consumers See News about a Variety of Topics on the SiteIf a solid portion of the public now gets at least some news on Facebook, what kind of news do they get? How actively are people sharing or posting news stories? And how much do people connect directly with news organizations rather than get news stories via recommendations from friends and family?

Overall, Facebook news consumers see news about a wide variety of topics. Roughly half, 49%, regularly see stories about at least six different topic areas.

Entertainment news is most common. Almost three-quarters, 73%, of Facebook news consumers regularly see entertainment news.

Kinds of News on FacebookRoughly two-thirds, 65%, of Facebook news consumers regularly see news about people and events in their own community. News about national government and politics is regularly seen by just over half, 55%, which is in line with news about sports (57%) and crime (51%).

Less frequently seen are stories about local government and politics (44%), local weather and traffic (42%), international issues (39%), science and technology (37%) and business (31%).

Facebook does not yet play much of a role in sharing and learning about breaking news. Just 28% of Facebook news consumers have ever used Facebook to keep up with a news event as it unfolds, and, of those, less than half (41%) say Facebook is one of the first places they turn to keep up with such an event.

The coveted “click back” from links inside Facebook posts to full stories on a news website is fairly common. Two-thirds of Facebook news consumers, 64%, say that they at least sometimes click on links to news stories. Still, just 16% do this often.

Major Reasons Why People Click on Links to News StoriesThe biggest single reason named for clicking on links about news stories is interest in the topic. Seven-in-ten (70%) of those who ever click on news stories say this is a major reason they do so; 45% cite the fact that they are already following the story in the news. Other popular reasons for clicking on news stories are that the story seemed funny or entertaining (51%) or surprising (50%).

The source of the news post ranks low among the reasons people follow a link to the full story. Just over a third, 37%, say a friend’s recommendation is a major reason they click on news links, and only 20% say a major reason is because the post is from a news organization they prefer.

Cite this publication: Amy Mitchell, Jocelyn Kiley, Jeffrey Gottfried and Emily Guskin. “The Role of News on Facebook.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (October 24, 2013) http://www.journalism.org/2013/10/24/the-role-of-news-on-facebook/, accessed on July 23, 2014.