Media & Entertainment

Study finds around one-third of Americans regularly get their news from Facebook


newspaper falling into a hole shaped like the Facebook logo
Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Around a third of Americans regularly get their news from Facebook, according to the latest study from Pew Research Center, whose surveys aim to better understand the current media landscape in the U.S. In the updated report, Pew Research found that around half of U.S. adults, or 53%, said they “often” or “sometimes” use social media to get their news. This is spread out across a number of sites, but Facebook is at the top of the list.

The study found that 36% of U.S. adults said they “regularly” access Facebook to get news. This is a significantly larger percentage than almost any other social media platform, with the exception of YouTube, which is used regularly for news by 23% of U.S. adults.

Beyond that, the percentages are much smaller. Even Trump’s preferred platform for communication (well, until recently), Twitter, is only used regularly for news by 15% of U.S. adults, Pew found.

Why Twitter says it banned President Trump

Only around one in 10 Americans or fewer said they regularly got their news from other social media platforms, including Instagram (11%), Reddit (6%), Snapchat (4%), LinkedIn (4%), TikTok (3%), WhatsApp (3%), Tumblr (1%) and Twitch (1%).

Pew notes that the lower percentages for using these sites as a source of news also has to do with the fact that fewer Americans report using these sites at all.

But even if their audiences are smaller, the site’s users may be heavily engaged with the news. Twitter, for instance, is used only by 25% of U.S. adults, but over half the users (59%) say they get news on the platform, compared with 54% of Facebook users. Meanwhile, 42% of Reddit users get news regularly on its site, even though it has a significantly smaller user base than Facebook.

In other words, the list of “top news platforms” looks a bit different when you count how many of a social media site’s own users gets the news regularly from the platform, instead of just how many U.S. adults altogether get their news from the site.

When measured this way, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit lead, followed by YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, then Twitch.

Pew additionally examined the demographic makeup of those who use social media for news, and found that white adults make up the majority of the regular news users for sites like Facebook and Reddit. Both Black and Hispanic adults, meanwhile, made up around a quarter of Instagram’s regular users (22% and 27%, respectively.) Facebook was found to also skew toward women (63% versus 35%) when it came to regularly using it getting the news, while Reddit skews toward men (67% versus 29%).

What’s also interesting about the report’s findings is that, despite Americans’ widespread usage of social media for getting the news, a majority (59%) said they believed it to be “largely inaccurate.” This figure has stayed fairly consistent over the past couple of years, as well. It’s up from 57% in 2018 and the same as on 2019.

Nearly half of social media users also said reading the news on social media has not made much of a difference in helping them to understand current events.

This finding seems to contradict reports and studies that say social media sites — and their algorithms that personalize news to the interests and beliefs of their users — have helped radicalize people online. Last week, the results of that was on full display as a mob of people who have consumed misinformation and conspiracy theories, often for years, stormed the U.S. Capitol in a failed attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

However, keep in mind that Pew’s study is based on self-reported data. So while respondents may have claimed social media posts didn’t really help them “understand” the news, they may be underestimating those posts’ power and influence over time.

The Pew Research Center regularly runs studies like this. For example, last year it reported how social media news consumers tend to be less engaged and less knowledgeable about the facts on key news topics, like the U.S. election or COVID-19. The same study also found that the social media news consumers were more frequently exposed to fringe conspiracies.

The platforms themselves have done little to help prevent the spread of misinformation, beyond adding basic fact-checks. Facebook waited years to ban QAnon groups, but many still remained after the sweep, as did “Stop the Steal” conspiracy groups, after a similar crackdown on the hashtags and other incitements of violence.

The latest report is here.

Facebook blocks hashtags for #sharpiegate, #stopthesteal election conspiracies

More TechCrunch

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

1 day ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo