Most Americans get news from social media, despite doubts – study

Even though they are skeptical, two-thirds of American adults still get some of their news from social media

Agence France-Presse

6:25:21am September 11, 2018

6:25:39am September 11, 2018

SOCIAL NEWS. This photo illustration taken on March 22, 2018 shows apps for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks on a smartphone. File photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP

SOCIAL NEWS. This photo illustration taken on March 22, 2018 shows apps for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks on a smartphone. File photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP

WASHINGTON, USA – Two-thirds of American adults get at least some of their news from social media, even though many are skeptical about the accuracy of that information, a survey showed Monday, September 10, US time.

The Pew Research Center report found 68% said they used social networks for news, with 20% saying they got information "often" from those services including Facebook and Twitter.

The percentages were largely unchanged from a year ago despite heightened scrutiny over misinformation and manipulation of online platforms, including by foreign actors.

More than half of those surveyed – 57% – said they expect the news they see on social media to be "largely inaccurate," according to Pew.

Still, most respondents said getting news this way has made little difference in their understanding of current events – 36% said it helped their understanding of current events while 15% said it made them "more confused."

The survey comes with social networks under intense scrutiny as they become more important "gatekeepers" of news, with President Donald Trump and his allies recently accusing tech firms of political bias.

In the Pew survey, only 11% of respondents said news on social media was "too biased" while 10% said the information was "low quality."

Concerns about accuracy were more prevalent among Republicans, with 72% expressing this concern, compared with 46% of Democrats and 52% of independents.

An estimated 67% of Facebook's users get news there, as do 71% of Twitter users and 73% of Reddit users. But because Facebook's overall user base is much larger, far more Americans overall get news on Facebook than on other sites.

Smaller percentages get news from other online platforms such as YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and WhatsApp, according to the report.

Pew surveyed 4,581 US adults between July 30 and August 12, with an estimated margin of error for the full sample of 2.5 percentage points. – Rappler.com