Are social media sites becoming the new source for news?

Instagram on laptop

Instagram on laptop

Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have become substantially popular in the recent years.  At the moment, Facebook, and to a lesser extent, Twitter, dominate the intersection of social media and news.

According to the Pew Research Centers for Excellence in Journalism, more people use Facebook over Twitter for news.  On any device, 7% get their news on Facebook more than the 3% who do on Twitter. Those numbers may grow as we transition into an even more digital world of journalism. Another 19% say they get recommendations via Facebook, and 4% get recommendations via Twitter.

The populations of Twitter and Facebook news users are not equal, however. Fully 82% of those who ever get some news via Twitter recommendations also get some news via Facebook recommendations.

Although Facebook and Twitter, both provide the audience with news, both do with different ways. On Facebook, the news comes mostly through family and friends. On Twitter, people tend to get news from a broader mix of recommenders.

When asked who sends you most of the news stories you read or watch via Facebook, 70% said friends and family. Another 13% get most of their recommendations from news organizations or individual journalists. Moreover, 10% said most of the news they looked at from social media came from non-news entities that recommend news stories. The percentage of people that said they didn’t know was 7%.

Among Twitter news followers, there is much more of a mix: 36% say they get most of their links from friends and family and while 27% get the news from news organizations. This group was also almost twice as likely to look at news recommended to them by non-news organizations. A greater portion on Twitter, were unsure where most of the news recommendations come from or chose not to answer.

Furthermore, many major news stories have been released though means of social media. For example, Osama Bin Laden’s death, Whitney Houston’s death and the Huston River plane landing are just a few of many major news stories ordinary citizens broke on Twitter first.

The Pew Research also includes demographics of Twitter and Facebook news users. Twitter news followers are more likely to be male, 57% versus 44% of Facebook users and 48% of the population over all. They are also younger; 39% are 18 to 29 years old, which is nearly double the population over all, but about the same as Facebook users.

As technology and journalism transition and transform to a more digital world, more people are leaning towards social media for news. However, as the future nears, will he numbers of social media news users increase or completely diminish? We will find out in the years to come.

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