Report: Facebook and Twitter a Growing News Source

John Lister's picture

The proportion of people getting their news from social media sites continues to rise. That's prompted debate about who decides what news is most important.

In 2013, the Pew Research Center reported that 52 percent of Twitter users get their news from Twitter, with the figure being 47 percent for Facebook users. In a follow-up survey this year, the figure is now 63 percent for both sites. In both surveys, the question defined news as "information about events and issues beyond just your friends and family." (Source:

Between the increasing proportions and the growth of the sites, the overall percentage of Americans getting news from social media has risen significantly. Four out of ten people now get news from Facebook while one in ten get news from Twitter.

Younger Users More Likely To Get News On Facebook

Twitter users are somewhat more likely to get politics, business, sports and world affairs news from Twitter than Facebook users are to get the same news from Facebook. For most other types of news, particularly locally-based stories, the figures are roughly the same across the two sites.

The overall increase was fairly consistent across all demographics. Generally, the numbers suggest factors such as gender, race or income make little difference to social media news consumption: the only real difference is that younger social media users are more likely to get news on the sites than older people.

As social media grows as a source of news stories, it could change the nature of which stories people see. Traditional media such as newspapers and radio tend to select stories based on two main criteria: an editorial judgment about what news is important, and the commercial need to choose stories that attract readers, listeners and viewers. Lesser factors include the political bias of the outlet's management and any pressure to keep advertisers happy.

Social Media Creates 'Echo Chamber'

Social media brings some factors which, if not new, are greatly enhanced. The first is self-selection: the accounts Twitter users choose to follow and the friends people add on Facebook can affect the type of stories they see posted as links. That can create what's been dubbed an "echo chamber" by which people only see stories that reinforce their political and social viewpoint, rather than getting a balanced view of the world.

The second factor is the filtering algorithm. While Twitter users can see every post from people they follow, the default view in Facebook puts content in an automated order based on what Facebook considers most important. Some research suggests Facebook downplays links to stories that they believe might clash with the reader's personal opinions, meaning people's views and preconceptions aren't challenged. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Do you intentionally use social media as a source to find out about news? Do you spend so much time visiting Facebook or Twitter that you often hear stories there first? Could social media affect the way news shapes our views of the world?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I still don't understand why anyone would want to use Twitter, unless 1-liners and attention deficit disorder are something you might find appealing. Facebook on the other hand is its own beast, and I frankly, I could care less for either one. I'd much rather read quality and consistent information from a website or newspaper.

alan.cameron_4852's picture

Having been encouraged to join and follow people I like. I have done that but Twitter insists in posting items on my Home page from people I do not want to follow or see pathetic comments. There does not appear to be any help available. The tutorials all assume you have lots of friends (none of mine are computer literate) and want to see everything. Instructions on how to restrict your notifications to Only those people you follow do not work. There is no advice or help available.


guitardogg's picture

Although not limited to FB or Twitter, there is so much misinformation out there, that everyone needs to use multiple sources, and most importantly, verify before you post! Snopes and similar sites are good places to start. Don't post BS!