Social media giant Facebook is the second largest source of political news for Americans with internet access, according to the Pew Research Center.
Pew’s recent survey of 2,901 people found that 49 per cent of respondents get their political news from local television networks in a typical week, while 48 per cent browse Facebook to read such news. In comparison, national news networks Fox News and CNN account for 39 and 44 per cent respectively.
However, these figures were derived from Americans who have an internet connection, a group that encompassed around 89 per cent of the subjects. If those without internet were factored into the results, 39 per cent source their political news from Facebook.
When it comes to other social media sites, only 9 per cent of the respondents go to Twitter for their political news, while 14 per cent head to YouTube.
Facebook’s advantage over the aforementioned sites is attributed to its wider reach. In fact, 77 per cent of the respondents are on Facebook versus 63 per cent for YouTube and 22 per cent for Twitter. Users don’t actively search for this kind of news on Facebook, but instead they chance upon it on their News Feeds.
Facebook feeds are populated by the posts of friends and acquaintances, so its popularity as a source for political news might impact the growing political divide in the United States between liberals and conservatives.
“When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. There is little overlap in the news sources they turn to and trust,” added the report.