News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2018

Social Media Platforms

bout two-thirds of American adults (68%) say they at least occasionally get news on social media, about the same share as at this time in 2017, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Many of these consumers, however, are skeptical of the information they see there: A majority (57%) say they expect the news they see on social media to be largely inaccurate. Still, most social media news consumers say getting news this way has made little difference in their understanding of current events, and more say it has helped than confused them (36% compared with 15%).

Republicans are more negative about the news they see on social media than Democrats. Among Republican social media news consumers, 72% say they expect the news they see there to be inaccurate, compared with 46% of Democrats and 52% of independents. And while 42% of those Democrats who get news on social media say it has helped their understanding of current events, fewer Republicans (24%) say the same.1 Even among those Americans who say they prefer to get news on social media over other platforms (such as print, TV or radio), a substantial portion (42%) express this skepticism.

Asked what they like about the news experience on social media, more Americans mention ease of use than content. “Convenience” is by far the most commonly mentioned benefit, (21%), while 8% say they most enjoy the interactions with other people. Fewer social media news consumers say they most like the diversity of the sources available (3%), or the ability to tailor the content they see (2%).

This study is based on a survey conducted July 30-Aug. 12, 2018, among 4,581 U.S. adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel.

Growth in social media news consumption slows down

About two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) get news on social media sites, about the same as the portion that did so in 2017 (67%). One-in-five get news there often.

Facebook is still far and away the site Americans most commonly use for news, with little change since 2017. About four-in-ten Americans (43%) get news on Facebook. The next most commonly used site for news is YouTube, with 21% getting news there, followed by Twitter at 12%. Smaller portions of Americans (8% or fewer) get news from other social networks like Instagram, LinkedIn or Snapchat.

The prominence of each social media site in the news ecosystem depends on two factors: its overall popularity and the extent to which people see news on the site.

Reddit, Twitter and Facebook stand out as the sites where the highest portion of users are exposed to news – 67% of Facebook’s users get news there, as do 71% of Twitter’s users and 73% of Reddit users. However, because Facebook’s overall user base is much larger than those of Twitter or Reddit, far more Americans overall get news on Facebook than on the other two sites.

Social Media Platforms

The other sites studied – including YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and WhatsApp – have less of a news focus among their user base. Fewer than half of each site’s users get news on each platform. Still both YouTube and LinkedIn saw these portions rise over the past year.

Nearly four-in-ten YouTube users (38%) say they get news on YouTube, slightly higher than the 32% of users who did so last year. And 30% of LinkedIn users get news there, up from 23% in 2017.

The percentage of U.S. adults who get news on two or more social media sites is 28%, little changed from 2017 (26%).

Demographics of social media news consumers

Social media sites’ news consumers can look vastly different in terms of their demographic makeup. For example, the majority of news consumers on Instagram are nonwhite. Three-quarters of Snapchat’s news consumers are ages 18 to 29, more than any other site. And LinkedIn, Twitter and Reddit’s news consumers are more likely to have bachelor’s degrees – 61% of LinkedIn’s news consumers do, as do 46% of Reddit’s news consumers and 41% of Twitter’s news consumers.

Women and Leadership

Women and Leadership

Two years after Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party, and with a record number of women running for Congress in 2018, a majority of Americans say they would like to see more women in top leadership positions – not only in politics, but also in the corporate world – according to a new Pew Research Center survey. But most say men still have an easier path to the top and that women have to do more to prove their worth. And the public is skeptical that the country will ever achieve gender parity in politics or in business.

Republicans and Democrats have widely different views about where things stand today and what factors are holding women back. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are more than twice as likely as Republicans and those who lean Republican to say there are too few women in high political offices (79% vs. 33%). And while 64% of Democrats say gender discrimination is a major reason why women are underrepresented in these positions, only 30% of Republicans agree.

There are also wide gender gaps in views about women in leadership. About seven-in-ten women say there are too few women in high political offices and in top executive business positions; about half of men say the same. And women are far more likely than men to see structural barriers and uneven expectations holding women back from these positions. About seven-in-ten women – vs. about half of men – say a major reason why women are underrepresented in top positions in politics and business is that they have to do more to prove themselves. And while about six-in-ten women say gender discrimination is a major obstacle to female leadership in each of these realms, smaller shares of men say this is the case in the corporate world (44%) or in politics (36%).

Gender gaps on views of women in leadership are particularly wide among Republicans

By 20 percentage points, Republican women are more likely than their male counterparts to say there are too few women in high political offices (44% of GOP women vs. 24% of GOP men) and in top executive positions in business (49% vs. 29%) in the U.S. today. And while most Republican women say it’s easier for men to get these positions, closer to half of GOP men say the same.

Republican women are also far more likely than Republican men to point to uneven expectations and structural barriers as major reasons why women are underrepresented in political and corporate leadership. For example, a majority of Republican women (64%) – vs. 28% of GOP men – say women having to do more to prove themselves is a major reason why there are fewer women than men in high political offices. About half of Republican women point to many Americans not being ready to elect women (50% vs. 18% of GOP men), gender discrimination (48% vs. 14%) and women getting less support from party leaders (45% vs. 27%) as major reasons.

Women and Leadership

Americans have different ideas on what traits might be helpful (or harmful) to men and women seeking leadership positions

When asked whether certain personal traits or characteristics would mostly help or mostly hurt men and women seeking to succeed in business or in politics, about seven-in-ten adults say being assertive and ambitious would mostly help a man’s chances in both realms. Closer to half see these traits as helpful to women who are trying to get to the top. In fact, about a quarter say being assertive and ambitious mostly hurts a woman’s chances of getting ahead in politics and business.

Showing emotions is seen, on balance, as being more harmful than helpful to both men and women. Still, more say this hurts female leaders than male leaders. About half (52%) say showing emotions hurts women in politics, 39% say this about men. Smaller shares say this helps men (24%) and women (17%) in getting elected to higher office. The patterns are similar for business leaders.