News consumption on social media in 2021
To better examine how Americans receive news in the digital age, the Pew Research Center interviewed 11,178 U.S. adults from July 26 to August 8, 2021, survey panel recruited through a national random sample of residential addresses. This way, almost all US adults have a chance of choice. The poll is weighted to be representative of the adult US population by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education, and other categories. Read more about the methodology of ATP.
In the past, the Pew Research Center has conducted similar research into Americans’ use of social media for news. This survey continues to explore similar topics, but in a different way than the research done before 2020 (more information can be found here); Therefore, some of these measures cannot be directly compared with results before 2020. These changes to the wording of the questions reflect the Centre’s efforts to improve the way we measure news consumption.
Here are the questions that were used for this analysis, along with the answers and methodology.
This is the latest report in the Pew Research Center’s ongoing survey of the State of News, Information and Journalism in the Digital Age, a research program funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
With social media and technology companies criticized for not doing enough to stem the flow of misleading information on their platforms, a sizable segment of Americans continue to turn to these websites for the news. Slightly less than half (48%) of adults in the US say they receive “often” or “sometimes” social media messages, a 5 percentage point decrease from 2020, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center was carried out from July 26th to August. 8, 2021.
When it comes to where Americans regularly get news on social media, Facebook outperforms all other social media sites.
In a separate question that asked users of 10 social media sites if they received regular messages there, around a third of US adults (31%) said they received regular messages on Facebook while About one in five Americans (22%) says they get regular updates on YouTube. Twitter and Instagram are regular news sources for 13% and 11% of Americans, respectively.
Other social media sites are less likely to be regular news sources. Less than one in ten Americans say they regularly receive messages from Reddit (7%), TikTok (6%), LinkedIn (4%), Snapchat (4%), WhatsApp (3%) and Twitch (1%).
The percentage of Americans who regularly receive news from these sites has remained largely unchanged since 2020, although the percentage who regularly receive messages on Facebook has decreased slightly (36% in 2020 versus 31% in 2021).
If you look at the proportion of users who regularly receive news on each social media site, some sites stand out as “newsy”, even if their total audience is relatively small. For example, Twitter is used by 23% of adults in the United States, but more than half of those users (55%) receive regular updates on the site. On the other hand, YouTube, although widespread, sees a smaller proportion of its users who regularly check the site for news (30%).
Overall, the percentage of users of each site who regularly receive news there has remained relatively stable since 2020, a year that saw both presidential elections and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, both Facebook and TikTok are opposing this trend. The proportion of Facebook users who state that they regularly receive news on the website has decreased by 7 points since 2020, from 54% to 47% in 2021. On TikTok, on the other hand, the proportion of users who state that they Saying this, slightly increased receive regular updates on the website, which increased from 22% to 29% in this period.
In some cases, there are drastic demographic differences between the people who make the messaging on each social media site. For example, white adults make up the majority of regular news consumers on Facebook and Reddit (60% and 54%, respectively), but just under four in ten Instagram news consumers (36%) are white. Both black and Hispanic adults make up a significant proportion of Instagram’s regular news consumers (20% and 33%, respectively). People who regularly receive messages on Facebook are more likely to be women than men (64% vs. 35%), while two-thirds of regular message consumers on Reddit are men. The majority of the regular message consumers on LinkedIn (57%) have a four-year college degree or higher. Younger adults, ages 18-29, are much more likely to get regular updates on Snapchat and TikTok than other age groups.
The majority of the regular news consumers of many websites are Democrats or Lean Democrats. This may be related to the relatively young age profile of the news consumers of these social media sites. Neither social media site included here has regular news consumers who are more likely to be Republicans or slim Republicans.