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Poll: Americans consume news differently across social media platforms

A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center looks at the different ways in which users on X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, Facebook and Instagram consume and interpret news on the platforms.
Social Media Parent Tips
Posted at 12:13 PM, Jun 17, 2024

As an increasing number of Americans are turning to social media as a source of news, a recent survey of about 10,000 U.S. adults shows that the way in which people find news varies greatly across different platforms.

According to a new poll from the Pew Research Center, an overwhelming majority of social media users report seeing news stories on the four major platforms: X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, Facebook and Instagram. However, one has emerged as the primary outlet for news consumers.

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A majority (65%) of users on X say that news content is a "major or minor reason" why they use the platform, and half regularly turn to it as a source of news. Meanwhile, those on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram say they are more likely to use the platforms for reasons other than keeping up with current events.

The poll found that the way people consume news on social media also differs across platforms. Facebook and Instagram users were more likely to get their news from friends and family or people they know personally, whereas news consumers on TikTok generally relied on influencers, and people on X cited individual outlets and journalists as their common source of news.

Pew: Social Media News

Meanwhile, the fact that users across all four platforms said they encounter news online doesn't necessarily mean they believe what they're seeing. Roughly half of people on all four sites said they "sometimes" encounter inaccurate news, with X and Facebook users being the most likely to run into news that seems inaccurate.

The survey also found a partisan divide among people on different platforms when it comes to how they view the news they encounter. Democratic news consumers were more likely than Republicans to say they encounter inaccurate news "fairly often" on X, while more Republicans said the same thing about Facebook.

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As Americans are increasingly turning online for news, experts say skepticism is a good thing across all platforms, especially in the age of misinformation. Margot Susca is an assistant professor of journalism, accountability and democracy at American University, and she says people should ask themselves certain questions when reading a story.

"Does it have a byline? Does it have a corrections policy? Does it give information about how it's used its sources?" she said.