July 14, 2015

The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook

News Use on Facebook and Twitter Is on the Rise

On Facebook and Twitter, More Users Are Getting NewsOn both Facebook and Twitter, more users are getting news than in the past. As of early 2015, 63% of Facebook and Twitter users get news on their respective sites. This is up substantially from 2013, when about half of each social network’s users (47% for Facebook and 52% for Twitter) reported getting news there.

These changes can be tied to many factors including personal behavior, increased activity by news organizations, as well as changes in the platforms’ filtering algorithms or content structures. This increase in exposure to news, defined as information about events and issues beyond just friends and family, emerges as overall usage of each social site has remained steady. Close to two-in-ten (17%) U.S. adults use Twitter and two-thirds (66%) use Facebook, according to the survey. But, since the portion of users who get news on the social networks has grown, more Americans overall are getting news through each site: One-in-ten U.S. adults get news on Twitter and about four-in-ten (41%) get news on Facebook.

One-in-Ten U.S. Adults Get News on Twitter, While About Four-in-Ten Get News on Facebook

News Use Overlap

Overlap in News Use Across Facebook and TwitterTo what extent do users of Facebook or Twitter as a news source also use the other social site for news? The data suggest that there is a fair amount of overlap. One-in-five Facebook news users also get news on Twitter, and fully 78% of the smaller population of Twitter news users also get news on Facebook. That results in 8% of U.S. adults getting news on both Facebook and Twitter. (We found a similar overlap in 2013.)

Increase in News Use Cuts Across Most Demographics

Strikingly, this increase in the portion of users getting news on each platform cuts consistently across nearly every demographic measured – gender, race, age, education and household income. There was not, in other words, any one demographic driving the shift.

Use of Twitter for news, for example, grew between 2013 and 2015 among all age groups: users under 35 (55% to 67%) and those 35 and older (47% to 59%). On Facebook, news use grew among both males (44% to 61%) and females (49% to 65%) as well as households with incomes less than $75,000 per year (47% to 63%) and those making $75,000 or more (46% to 63%).

Across Demographics, Increase in Facebook and Twitter Users Who Get News These data also reveal that, with one exception, the portion of users from each demographic group getting news on each site is fairly consistent. For example, 63% of both white and non-white users now get news on Twitter, as do 62% of white and 64% of non-white Facebook users. The one area where there is still considerable difference is age among Facebook users. While users in all age groups are more likely to use the site for news in 2015 than in 2013 (and in roughly equal proportions), younger users (adults under 35) are still more likely to see news there than users 35 and older (74% vs. 57%).