Facebook Feeds Give News to 3 in 10 Adults

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Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) reach is massive, and this is news to no one. But a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project, which analyzed the role that social media plays in bringing news to Americans, suggests that as many as 3 in 10 adults get some of their news from Facebook, which is currently the most far-reaching social media website.

That said, finding news on Facebook is almost never a proactive experience, the study found. The findings suggest that about 78 percent of adults who got some of their news from the website were on Facebook for other reasons, and most of that news became integrated into their news feed because they “liked” a particularly news organization or specific journalist.

A full 22 percent of adults surveyed through the study said they thought Facebook was a good way of keeping up with the news, a fact which leaves one feeling rather uneasy about the state of Americans’ awareness of current affairs, especially considering that the study also found that entertainment news was the largest news category on Facebook, comprising about 73 percent of news stories.

The study also found that while Facebook brings news to about 30 percent of adults in the U.S., in general, perhaps due to the fact that reading about the news isn’t what users are normally on Facebook to do, users who visit a news site through Facebook aren’t as engaged in the article as those who come to that same site directly. The study found that a users who arrive at a site spend an average of 1 minute, 42 seconds on that article, while users who arrived at the site directly engaged almost five times as long, averaging 4 minutes, 36 seconds on the article.

Interestingly, the study also found that which social media site you use for news is somewhat gendered, with Facebook news consumers more likely to be female, while YouTube and LinkedIn news consumers more likely to be male.

Also unsurprisingly, the study found that the percentage of people who received news from any given social media site varied widely depending upon the type of social media platform. For instance, while the study found that roughly half of all Facebook and Twitter users get news on those sites, that number rose to about 62 percent of users on Reddit while, by contrast, only a small minority of users on the more image-heavy social media sites Instagram and Pinterest found any news on those sites.

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