Perhaps no topic in technology attracted more attention in 2011 than the rise of social media and its potential impact on news. “If searching for news was the most important development of the last decade, sharing news may be among the most important of the next,” we wrote in a May 2011 report analyzing online news behavior called .
Facebook defines “active users” as those who interact with Facebook content at least once a month. Despite debates about defining “active users,” there is little question about the site’s popularity or its “stickiness,” the degree to which some users are there a lot: Facebook users spent an average of 423 minutes each on the site in December. By contrast, a PEJ analysis of Nielsen Net View data puts the average time on a top 25 news site at just under 12 minutes per month.Even in 2010, all but one of those top news sites, with the exception being Google News, obtained a portion of their traffic from Facebook. And in 2011, Facebook furthered the news element of its platform with developments like the Social Reader, which allows users to follow, read and share news without ever leaving the network.
How much are consumers relying on Facebook for their daily news information, especially in comparison with using search or going directly to news websites or apps? And when they do get news on these networks, does it come from friends and family or from news organizations they follow? And finally, how is this news viewed?
Interviews were conducted in English. Respondents in the landline sample were selected by randomly asking for the youngest adult person who was then at home. Interviews in the cellphone sample were conducted with the person who answered the phone, if that person was an adult 18 years of age or older.
© Pew Research Center, 2012
Note: Because the populations are relatively small (especially those who get news via Twitter), it is helpful to broaden the base of our analysis out to those who get news on one of the platforms.
What Facebook and Twitter Mean for News | State of the Media