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More in the US to get news from multiple social media sites

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Americans are getting news from multiple social media sites more than ever, according to a recent report by the Pew Research Center. Roughly a quarter of all US adults (26%) receive messages from two or more social media sites, up from 15% in 2013 and 18% in 2016. However, there are significant differences in the extent to which news users view the individual sites receive messages from other sites and which sites they are.

Facebook claims the largest proportion of social media news consumers, and its news users are much more likely to rely on this website solely for news. Just under half (45%) of adults in the United States use Facebook for messaging. Half of Facebook’s news users get news from this social media site alone, with only one in five relying on three or more sites for news.

For comparison: Message users from LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp are particularly likely to receive messages on multiple social networks: Half or more of their message users receive messages on three or more social media sites.

In general, websites with fewer news users also have the most overlap with other news social media sites. However, Reddit stands alone when it has a small but more exclusive audience of news users. Only 4% of adults in the US get news from this site, and only 38% of those users use three or more social media sites for news.

Finer differences arise in which sites news users share. When looking at sites that share at least 25% of their news users with another site, the most common target group overlap is news users from smaller sites who also visit Facebook and / or YouTube for news, the two sites with the most news users overall. About half or more news users of each of the other websites surveyed also receive messages on Facebook, while about a quarter or more overlap on YouTube. Four of the sites have significant overlaps with Twitter: About a third or more of news users on Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Reddit also receive news on Twitter.

Aside from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, there is less widespread overlap in news usage with the other sites. However, there is significant overlap between Instagram and Snapchat messaging users, and at least a third of WhatsApp messaging users also receive messages from these two sites, although a relatively small proportion of the population uses these sites for messaging. Only a small proportion (less than 25%) of the message users of these sites also receive messages from Reddit, LinkedIn, WhatsApp or Tumblr.

Adults in the United States who receive messages from multiple social networking sites are more likely to be white and younger. About half (47%) of news consumers who rely on two or more social media sites for news are non-white (including Hispanics) compared to about a quarter (26%) of those who only use one site. They are more likely to be under 50: 77% are between 18 and 49 years old, compared to 56% of those who only use one website for news. They are also twice as likely to be between 18 and 29 years old (37% vs. 18%).

Elizabeth Grieco is a former senior writer / editor with a focus on journalism research at the Pew Research Center.

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