Pew Study Shows More Americans Are Relying On Social Media For News – Quartz
Social media and the news have a dysfunctional marriage, but they just can’t part.
A new poll suggests that while more Americans rely on social media than ever before, they aren’t particularly happy about how much control platforms have over the information they consume. The Pew Research Center released a report on October 2 that found that 55% of adults in the US get their news either “often” or “sometimes” through social media. That’s an 8% jump from last year and is the first time a majority of adults polled by Pew say social media plays a significant role in their messaging habits.
Almost every news agency, from small town newspapers to national news networks, has a presence on social media these days. But Facebook’s mysterious newsfeed algorithms and the various programs that platforms like Twitter and YouTube use to rank certain content against others arouse suspicion among readers. More than 62% of respondents said social networks have too much control over the messages people see, and 55% said social media’s efforts to rank or prioritize certain messages are “a worse mix “From generating messages.
Every major social network (with the exception of Tumblr) saw an increase in users who rely on news compared to last year.
Falsehoods and misinformation are still a serious side effect of news consumption on social networks, which are still extremely difficult to moderate. Over 80% of respondents said that inaccurate news is at least a “moderate problem” when consuming news on social media.
Paul Barrett, assistant director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, who wrote a report on misinformation and social media, said the Pew report indicates a disturbing confluence of trends. “Americans are getting messages from social media sites more and more, even though a large percentage of Pew respondents say they are wary of whether those messages are biased or sensational,” Barrett told Quartz via email. “This is a recipe for cynicism and increased political polarization.”
Despite increased scrutiny and calls for more regulation, platforms are not afraid to work with news agencies. Facebook plans to launch a new, separate news section for its app at the end of October. The platform is currently in talks with several high-profile news publishers, according to The Wall Street Journal. Soon, users may see even more messages on social media, whether they like it or not.
This post originally included a chart comparing 2018 and 2019 Pew data, which has been removed since the organization changed its methodology.