Mark Zuckerberg did what everyone in the news industry feared and many anticipated. Facebook announced Thursday that from now on, users would see more posts from their friends and family rather than from publishers and brands.
Zuckerberg said the change was spurred by feedback from users, who felt the platform was losing its focus on interpersonal connections. Meanwhile, it became one of the most widely used and powerful news distributors on the internet. In many countries, nearly half the population uses Facebook as a news source.
News is not going to disappear from Facebook. But people might have to turn elsewhere to get their information. Where?
According to a 2017 report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Oxford University, the internet is the primary source of news for Americans, with television in second place. Nearly 80% of 845 respondents surveyed said they used the internet for news in the week preceding the poll.
Forty-five percent of the nearly 5,000 Americans surveyed by The Pew Research Center in 2017 said they “often” or “sometimes” got some of their news from social media, mainly from Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube. It’s likely more people will now turn to Twitter and Google for their news; following Facebook’s announcement Twitter’s stock rallied.
The Reuters report looked at the media habits of people in 30 countries. While use of social media as a news source appeared to be flattening in recent years, young people use it more than online news sites, TV, and print newspapers altogether.
Messaging apps are becoming an increasingly important source of news, particularly in Asia and Latin America. The report attributes this to several factors. Messaging apps are closed, allowing people to share information freely, particularly when encrypted. Such services can also be cheaper. Facebook’s WhatsApp, for example, is often bundled with phone contracts.
With Facebook taking a back seat in the news business, news aggregators, which are growing in popularity—particularly Apple News, according to the report—will be where many people turn for information.