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Survey highlights Facebook as a prominent news source

Graeme Parton

More than 30 per cent of Americans use Facebook as a news source, according to the results of a new study released by the  Pew Research Center last week.

Nearly 80 per cent of those asked said they find their news as they are sharing photos or checking up on the activities of friends. Most of the heavy news consumers didn’t describe the social site as an important news source, however.

The Center’s journalism research expert, Amy Mitchell, explained that Facebook users are finding their news without trying, with most just stumbling across it as they carry out other activities.

The report is the first to be put together as part of a collaboration between the Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The series of studies will look into the links between news consumption and social networking.

According to the results of the research, around 60 per cent of all American adults are regular users of Facebook, which is the largest social site in the world. Despite so many people using it for news, only four per cent of respondents said it was their main source.

It was also found that those between the ages of 18 and 29 make up a third of all news consumers on Facebook. In another of its recent studies, Pew revealed that 34 per cent of those aged 18-24 consume news when using social media, with only 10 per cent aged 50-64.

The unveiling of the figures only supports the idea that the number of ways in which younger people are consuming news is growing constantly. Many people turn to sites like Twitter and Facebook as they offer such convenience. With many newspaper sites now introducing paywalls, social media also offers a chance for businesses to cater for those who want free, industry-relevant news content.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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