Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly important sources of news for Americans.
A new Pew Research Center study finds that nearly 2 out of every 3 users on Facebook and Twitter get news on the online services. That’s a big increase from just two years ago, when only 47 per cent of Facebook users used the social network for news, the report said.
Both companies have ramped up their efforts in recent years to position themselves as the go-to source for the latest news about everything from current events to celebrity gossip.
According to the Pew report though, consumers use the rival social networks to satisfy different aspects of their daily news diet.
For breaking news, Twitter still dominates. The proportion of users who claim that they get the latest news from Twitter — 59 per cent — is nearly twice as high as the 31 per cent of Facebook users who follow breaking news on the social network. On Twitter, users are also more likely than Facebookers to see news on these four widely-read topics: national government and politics, international affairs, sports and business.
But Facebook users are more likely to actively be active when it comes to news about government and politics. About 28% of Facebook users comment on articles about on those topics that are posted on the social network, compared to just 13 per cent of Twitter users, the study finds.
Both platforms are racing to make news a bigger part of the user experience: Twitter will be soon rolling out a feature called “Project Lightning“, which will display a collection of photos and videos instead of the traditional timeline. Both users and non-users can enjoy the immersive experience which will mesh multimedia — Vines, Periscopes, etc. — into an aggregated feed.
Kevin Weil, product head for Twitter, told Buzzfeed that “this is a brand-new way to look at tweets. This is a bold change, not evolutionary.”
Facebook, on the other hand, recently dispatched a product called “Instant Articles“. It allows media companies to post stories directly to the app, taking a tenth of the time to load stories on mobile phones than if readers clicked on a publisher’s link as per the traditional post.