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Facebook, Twitter still the leading social media sites where people get news

Though numbers declined slightly from 2020, there are still plenty of Americans getting their news from social media.

Angela Lang/CNET

Roughly half of US adults say they get news from social media sites "sometimes" or "often," according to a new poll from Pew Research Center. Though that number (48%) is slightly lower than it was last year, it could generate concern given social media's vulnerability to misinformation.

The new data, published Monday by Pew, includes a few interesting finds. Facebook remains the largest contender, with 31% of US social-media-using adults surveyed saying they regularly get news from Facebook. That's followed by YouTube at 22% and Twitter at 13%. Twitter, however, is seen as more newsy than the other two sites, according to Pew. If you look just at Twitter users (and not all US adults), 55% say they regularly get news on the social media site.

On the other end of the spectrum, "Fewer than one in 10 Americans say they regularly get news from Reddit (7%), TikTok (6%), LinkedIn (4%), Snapchat (4%), WhatsApp (3%) and Twitch (1%)," according to Pew. 

In terms of demographics, the people who frequently turn to social media for news are predominantly white. More than half of regular news consumers on Facebook (60%), Twitter (51%) and Reddit (54%) are white, with Twitter (46%) and LinkedIn (45%) falling closely behind. On more visually focused platforms like Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram, the percentage of Hispanic users who regularly get news from the platform approaches or, in the case of Snapchat, exceeds the percentage of white users, according to Pew. Snapchat and TikTok news regulars skew younger than other social media platforms, with 63% and 52% in the 18-29 age range. 

These results underline the importance of fact-checking on social media sites: With nearly half of American adults turning to social media for regular news consumption, it's extremely easy for misinformation to spread.

The Pew data was based on web surveys conducted between July and August with responses from more than 11,000 people that were part of a "nationally representative panel of randomly selected US adults."