Why Facebook might not be the go-to news source anymore
Monday, June 18, 2018
Wake up. Roll over. Look at Facebook. See your friends. Read the news. For many, it’s a morning ritual. In fact, 46 percent of Americans look at their smartphone when they first wake up, according to a 2017 Report Linker survey.
Up until now, Facebook has been the one-stop-shop for all the info you need before you get out of bed: the weather, friendly faces and the latest news stories.
For the last seven years, more and more people have been reading the news on social. For 67 percent of Americans, social media was the place they got their news, according to 2017 Pew Research.
But, this year, the times are changing. Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report, which surveyed more than 74,000 people in 37 countries, found that 6 percent fewer people are getting their news from social media.
What’s causing the shift? The researchers attribute the decline "almost entirely due to changes in the use of Facebook."
In the U.S. alone, 9 percent fewer people are reading the news on Facebook in 2018 compared to 2017. If you look only at younger people on Facebook, that decline grows to 20 percent.
You may have noticed that Facebook just removed its Trending section that used to live on the right-side of the Facebook News Feed. Alex Hardiman, Facebook’s head of news products, released a statement saying, "From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful."
But Facebook’s Trending section was also marred by controversy and often accused of displaying fake or inaccurate news stories. About a third (32 percent) of Americans say they often see completely made up stories while more than half (51 percent) often read news stories online that are not fully accurate.
Those fake or erroneous news stories always find their way to social media. In the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, Stanford tracked 156 election-related fake news stories that were shared on Facebook nearly 40 million times.
Based on those numbers, it’s not that surprising to hear that just 5 percent of people have a lot of trust in the information they get from social media, according to 2017 Pew Research.
Again, Facebook appears to be at the center of this perception. While Facebook news consumption drops, other social networks see an uptick.
Users on WhatsApp, a messaging app, consumed twice more news now than they did four years ago. Though, that trend appears to be, for now, primarily driven by those in Latin America and Asia.
Those in the U.S., are getting more of their news on Snapchat. Snapchat Discover, the network’s news section, now reaches 17 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds.
In a Reuters focus group, a young male said, "What I’ve noticed was Facebook was everything to me but now Snapchat and Instagram through different mediums are coming right up and making things more convenient than Facebook."
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