Self-proclaimed social media gurus, listen up: A new study says that more Twitter and Facebook users are turning to the platforms primarily for news. The Pew Research Center released its findings on Tuesday, in a report titled “The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook,’ and one number in particular sticks out: 63% of both Twitter and Facebook users claim the services are now sources of news for them–and not just a way to keep up with friends and family.
Pew notes that this isn’t due to a significant uptick in number of users, but because of changes in the sites’ algorithms and a heightened flurry of activity from publishers:
On both Facebook and Twitter, more users are getting news than in the past. As of early 2015, 63% of Facebook and Twitter users get news on their respective sites. This is up substantially from 2013, when about half of each social network’s users (47% for Facebook and 52% for Twitter) reported getting news there.
These changes can be tied to many factors including personal behavior, increased activity by news organizations, as well as changes in the platforms’ filtering algorithms or content structures. This increase in exposure to news, defined as information about events and issues beyond just friends and family, emerges as overall usage of each social site has remained steady.
Despite the fact that only 17% of adults use Twitter versus a whopping 66% on Facebook, one of the most surprising findings was that Twitter’s audience is more likely than Facebook’s to see news related to fours specific topics: national government (72% vs. 61%), international affairs (63% vs. 51%), business (55% vs. 42%), and sports (70% vs. 55%). A source at Pew, speaking off the record, said this could give credence to the argument that Twitter’s strength is in live events.
The report also found that data on users following the news via Facebook and Twitter cuts across all demographic groups. 2,035 adults, 18 and over, were surveyed for the project.