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Monday, October 28, 2013


This story first appeared in BizReport.

Some of the headlines surrounding the Pew Research Center's latest published figures regarding news consumption on Facebook might make you think the social network is becoming the place to go to catch up on current events, but they are misleading.

Pew Research Center, in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to supporting "transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts", has revealed the results of research into how consumers use Facebook to consume news.

The upshot is that, while two-thirds of all U.S. adults use Facebook, just 4% of Facebook news consumers said the platform is the most important way they obtain their news. Overall, under half (47%) "ever" get news from the social network.

Instead, most (80%) Facebook users simply stumble across news stories that their friends have posted in the newsfeed. Seventy percent will click through to a news story they come across on Facebook if they find it interesting, over half (51%) will click through if they find the story entertaining or surprising (50%). Whether that news story is from a news organization they prefer is neither here nor there and a reason cited by just 20%.

"People go to Facebook to share personal moments - and they discover the news almost incidentally," says Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research at Pew.

However, while Facebook isn't currently the go-to place for news, the survey does reveal that Facebook exposes some people to news they might otherwise not have discovered. While 38% of heavy news followers who get some of their news from Facebook say the social network is an important place they get news, that figure rises to 47% among those who follow the news less often.

According to one survey respondent, "If it wasn't for Facebook news I'd probably never really know what's going on in the world because I don't have time to keep up with the news on a bunch of different locations".