August 14, 2019

Seeing Is Not Believing

A majority of Americans get some of their news from social media—but that doesn’t mean they believe it

A Pew Research Center survey reports that 68 percent of Americans say they at least occasionally get news on social media—10 percent even prefer it. Traditional methods still have their place, though, with 44 percent of Americans preferring to watch news on television, 14 percent preferring to listen to it on the radio, and 7 percent preferring to read it in newspapers. 

But the survey also found that people don’t necessarily trust the news they see on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other sites. In fact, 57 percent of Americans who get news on social media say they expect it to be largely inaccurate. And even among the 10 percent who prefer social media over other news platforms, 42 percent say they expect what they see to be largely inaccurate.

So why are these Americans relying on social media for news, even if they think what they see won’t be true? In a word: convenience.

When the Pew Research Center asked survey respondents what they like about getting news on social media, the answers included: “it’s very accessible,” “it’s available at the touch of a button,” and “I don’t have to go looking for it.” About a third (36%) say getting news on social media has helped to improve their understanding of current events. 

All this doesn’t mean Americans don’t care about inaccuracy. In fact, inaccuracy is a top concern for many social media news consumers. And nearly a third (31%) of respondents said this was the primary reason they dislike getting news on social media sites, citing reasons such as unreliable sources, lack of fact-checking, and “fake news.” 

When you’re catching up on the news, does convenience outweigh accuracy? Learn more and share your thoughts with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or email.

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Learn more about Americans today: Media Habits, Social Media

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