Nearly half of US adults get news on Facebook

Nearly half of US adults get news on Facebook

Nearly half of adults in the United States get news on Facebook, according to a Pew Research survey. A total of 44 percent of the voting-aged public get news on Facebook, making it the most popular social media site for information.

Those individuals are more likely to be female, younger than 50 years old and white, researchers found. 

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By a slim margin, Democrats and independents make up larger shares of news consumers on Facebook, and social media in general, compared to Republicans. Of those users who get news on Facebook, 22 percent are Republican, 31 percent are Democrats and 32 percent are independent. 

The results help explain why the company acted so quickly and forcefully to try to rebut reporting that some contractors running its Trending Topics feature suppressed conservative news or outlets.   

The company said it found no evidence that employees were routinely suppressing news, but it made changes to its policies nonetheless. It also invited more than a dozen conservatives to a meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an attempt to allay concerns. 

Part of the reason Facebook leads for newsgathering is because of its broad penetration overall. About 67 percent of adults use the social media platform, while only 16 percent use Twitter and 10 percent use Snapchat. 

The survey reveals that people get news in different ways, depending on which social media site they use. 

For example, the majority of users who get news on Facebook report doing so passively, when they are doing other things online. That is the same for Instagram and YouTube. 

The majority of news consumers on Twitter, however, report actively going to the site to get news. That mirrors results for Reddit and LinkedIn. 

The survey of 4,654 people between Jan. 12 and Feb. 8 has a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.