January 12, 2021

News Use Across Social Media Platforms in 2020

Appendix: Changing measurements of news consumption on social media

This year’s edition of Pew Research Center’s annual study of how Americans use social media sites for news asks about similar topics in different ways from previous years. The Center’s experts made changes this year to improve measurements of news consumption on social media. Those changes are described below. Accordingly, these measures should not be directly compared with similar data from earlier years.

For the measure of how often respondents get news from social media:

  • In 2019, all respondents were asked how often they get news from social media. In 2020, respondents were first asked how often they get news from “a smartphone, computer or tablet,” and only those who said they did so “often,” “sometimes” or “rarely” were asked how often they get news from social media.
  • In 2019, respondents were asked how often they get news from “a social media site (such as Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat).” In 2020, respondents were asked how often they get news from “social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.”
  • In 2019, the response options were, in order shown, “often,” “sometimes,” “hardly ever” and “never.” In 2020, the response options were, in order shown, “never,” “rarely,” “sometimes” and “often.”

For the measure of how many U.S. adults get news regularly from individual social media sites:

  • In 2019, social media users were asked: “Do you ever get news or news headlines on any of the following sites?” In 2020, social media users were asked: “Do you REGULARLY get news or news headlines on any of the following social media sites or apps?”

You can see these questions in the topline for this report here [Topline link], and you can see previously asked questions here.

Learn more in our recent methodological report examining best practices for measuring news consumption in a digital era.