Ironically, the fact that Facebook is not a “go-to” news source is news to Facebook, while the fact that they ever wanted to become one is news to the rest of us.
While 78 percent of the 5,000 people polled in a study by the Pew Research Center have reported that yes, they do read the news on Facebook, the fact that they do so is mere happenstance. They do not go to Facebook with the intention of catching up on what’s going on in the world, but more like what’s going on with their family and friends.
It is estimated that two-thirds of all adults in the United States are on Facebook. At least half of them have seen news on the site, but that doesn’t mean they were searching for it. Therefore, the study has determined that only 30 percent of adult Facebook users are actually “Facebook news consumers.”
However, those who don’t regularly follow a news source, like teenagers, were deemed more likely to turn to Facebook as an “important” source of news. Only 38 percent of people polled who said they were avid news followers confirmed that, for them, Facebook is an important source of news. For people who follow the news “some of the time” or less often, their reliance on Facebook went up to 47%.
For those who enjoy social media as a way to escape the news, they may not want to see the social media site pursue a news-heavy direction. Amy Mitchell, the director of journalism research at Pew Research Center, made an interesting observation. She stated that when people who are not as interested in the news have it pop up at them while they are scrolling, this may actually increase the importance of a news presence being made available on the network.
The Pew Research Center also found some other interesting statistics during the course of their study:
- Not surprisingly, young people who fall in the 18 to 29 year-old demographic make up about a third, or 34 percent, of all of Facebook’s news consumers. While that number may seem high for that age group, keep in mind the ages of the majority of Facebook’s users.
- 42 percent of those who consume their news via Facebook tend to also watch the local news on TV. However, on 21 percent of those who consume their news via Facebook read printed newspapers.
- About half of Facebook’s news consumers seek out news on six or more topics of varying subject matter. Entertainment news is, also unsurprisingly, the most popular topic.
- 64 percent of Facebook’s news consumers admit to actually clicking on news-related links, though only 43 percent of Facebook’s news consumers then post or share those links.
- Approximately one-third of Facebook’s news consumers admit to preferring news topics that match their own personal points of view. Though, this is an only slightly higher number than the 27 percent of adults living in the country who had admitted to same.