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The evolving role of news on Twitter and Facebook

The share of Americans for whom Twitter and Facebook serve as a source of news is continuing to rise. This rise comes primarily from more current users encountering news there rather than large increases in the user base overall, according to findings from a new survey. The report also finds that users turn to each of these prominent social networks to fulfill different types of information needs.

The new study, conducted by Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, finds that clear majorities of Twitter (63%) and Facebook users (63%) now say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family. That share has increased substantially from 2013, when about half of users (52% of Twitter users, 47% of Facebook users) said they got news from the social platforms.

Although both social networks have the same portion of users getting news on these sites, there are significant differences in their potential news distribution strengths. The proportion of users who say they follow breaking news on Twitter, for example, is nearly twice as high as those who say they do so on Facebook (59% vs. 31%) – lending support, perhaps, to the view that Twitter’s great strength is providing as-it-happens coverage and commentary on live events.

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Source: Pew Research Center

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