The Pew Research Center announced today that it had made a discovery: Facebook and Twitter are growing in influence, with more and more users using them as a source of news. We had a sense that this was happening, as both sites were making moves to establish themselves as news destinations, and the Pew study seems to suggest their efforts may be paying off.
This increase isn't due to a growing user base for the sites, says the study, but rather that existing users are increasingly discovering news stories there. Pew found that 63 percent of users on both Facebook and Twitter said they used the sites to find out about news and current events. These findings are probably particularly heartening for both sites, both of which have been pushing for a greater focus on news lately. Twitter's "Project Lightning" will focus on providing live coverage and breaking news to everyone, whether they have Twitter accounts or not, while Facebook launched Instant Articles this past May, allowing news organizations to publish directly on the site.
It's not just millennials
This study may also serve as a wake up call to more traditional media organizations, emphasizing the importance of incorporating social media into their daily duties, because Pew's study wasn't limited to talking about millennials. The share of media consumers getting their news from social media extended across all demographics, with both male and female users increasingly using Facebook, and with Twitter getting more notice from users both under and over 35.
However, most users still describe both sites as secondary sources, and it is still younger users who place greater influence on social media sites for their news. The question still remains as to what extent users are actually reading the news stories.