Pew: Older Americans increasingly getting news from social media

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Facebook and YouTube are popular.
Facebook and YouTube are popular.

Older Americans are helping drive an increase in the number of people who are obtaining their news from social media, according to the results of a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

As of August, 67% of all Americans reported getting at least some of their news from social media sources, with 20% saying they do so often, according to the center. The overall increase was modest compared with the 62% reported in 2016 during the height of the presidential primaries, Pew said, but older, less educated and nonwhite Americans are responsible for “substantial increases.”

“For the first time in the Center's surveys, more than half (55%) of Americans ages 50 or older report getting news on social media sites,” the authors said. “That is 10 percentage points higher than the 45% who said so in 2016.” Those aged fewer than 50 years, however, still are more likely than those older than 50 to obtain their news from social media (78% of them did).

Older adults were more likely to get their news from Facebook or YouTube than Instagram or Snapchat, according to the survey results. Generally speaking, LinkedIn and Facebook were two of the social media sites with the highest percentages of users aged 50 to 64 and 65 or more years. Twitter also is popular for those aged 50 to 64, whereas YouTube has a higher percentage of users who are 65+ than are 50 to 64.

This results are based on a survey conducted Aug. 8 to 21 with 4,971 U.S. adults who are members of Pew Research Center's American Trends Panel, which the organization said is nationally representative. Panelists answer questions via a web survey, and those who do not have internet access are provided with a tablet computer and a wireless internet connection.

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