A study conducted by Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation shows that more users are getting news on both Facebook and Twitter than in the past, and users are turning to each of these social networks to fulfill different types of information needs.
#1. A majority of Facebook and Twitter users now say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family. This increase in exposure to news emerges as overall usage of each social network has remained steady. Sixty-three percent of Facebook and Twitter users get news on their respective social networks. Forty-one percent of U.S. adults get news on Facebook and one-in-ten U.S. adults get news on Twitter.
#2. Although both social networks have the same portion of users getting news on their sites, there are significant differences in their potential news distribution strengths due to the various technical features and distinct cultures among their users. Fifty-nine percent of Twitter news users use the site to keep up with breaking news as it is happening, compared with 31% of Facebook news users who do the same on Facebook.
#3. Facebook users are more likely than Twitter users to directly engage with content related to politics and government. Thirty-two percent of Facebook users post about government and politics, compared with 25% of Twitter users who tweet about this news topic. In addition, 28% of Facebook users comment on posts about government and politics, and 43% of Facebook users like posts about this news topic, in comparison to 13% of Twitter users who reply to such tweets and 17% of Twitter users who favorite them.
#4. While Twitter news users report seeing news related to national government and politics at a higher rate (72% vs. 61%), Facebook news users are more likely to regularly see news about people and events in their local communities (69% vs. 63%). Additionally, women are more likely to regularly see news about health and entertainment on Facebook, and news about weather and crime are more commonly seen by women on Twitter.
#5. With the exception of age, the increase in news exposure is relatively equal across all demographic groups. On Facebook, news consumption grew among both men (44% to 61%) and women (49% to 65%), households with income less than $75,000 per year (47% to 63%), and those making $75,000 or more per year (46% to 63%). On Twitter, news consumption grew among both users under age 35 (55% to 67%) and those ages 35 and older (47% to 59%).