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It’s official: More people get news from social media than newspapers

It’s official: More people get news from social media than newspapers
[Photos: Kal Loftus/Unsplash; Roman Kraft/Unsplash]

We’ve known about the downfall of newspapers for quite a while now. But this year the once-dominant industry’s demise hit a new low: Social media has overtaken print newspapers as a place where people find news.

According to new survey data from Pew Research, adults in the U.S. got their news from social media more often than print newspapers in 2018. Last year, the two were nearly tied; the year prior, newspapers had a slight edge.

Still, social media and newspapers are two of the least common ways to find news, when compared to other types of media, according to these numbers. The most popular, sadly, is television. Per the survey, 49% of adults get their headlines from watching CNN or Fox News. Coming in second is news websites (thank you!), with 33%. Then comes radio, which 26% of U.S. adults reportedly still listen to for timely updates. Social media and newspapers round out the list with 20% and 16% respectively.

[Image: courtesy of Pew Research Center]
The rise of social media as a news source isn’t surprising, but it does illustrate a growing potential for spreading misinformation. With more people relying on digital platforms for headlines, it means there’s more room for fake news and its ilk to run amok.

Last week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sang the praises of taking a silent retreat in Myanmar, a luxury he can easily afford as a multimillionaire. But there’s a huge irony here: The leader of one of the most popular platforms–one known to have been integral in many disinformation campaigns–turned off all his social feeds while in Myanmar, a country where genocide has taken place thanks in part to hateful posts that spread like wildfire on platforms like Facebook.

And now we have Pew’s latest numbers showing that despite situations like Myanmar, social media as a news source is still on the rise. Let’s hope that as more people get their news from these sites, we figure out a way to curb the false stories.

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