Here are some findings about the role of social media:
Over all, just 9% of Americans very often follow news recommendations from Facebook or from Twitter on any of the three digital devices (computers, smartphones or tablets). That compares with more than a third, 36%, who very often go directly to news organizations on one of their devices, 32% who get news from search very often, and 29% who turn to some sort of news organizer site or app.
Among just digital news consumers (excluding those who say they do not get news online), the percentage who get at least some news from one of these two leading social networks rises to 52%. But this still trails by a large margin other ways of getting news (92% go directly to news websites and 85% use search).
Another finding is that, contrary to what some observers have argued, the rise of social media recommendations at this point does not appear to be coming at the expense of people going directly to news sites or searching for news topics they are interested in. Instead, social media news consumption is supplemental. This expanded behavior also mirrors what we see in the larger report about news consumptions on different digital devices. Smartphones and tablets do not appear to be replacing computers as much as providing additional ways to get news.
For example, fully 71% of those who ever follow news links on Facebook also get news somewhat or very often by going directly to a news organization’s website or app.1 Among Twitter news followers, 76% also go to home pages or use apps from a news organization very or somewhat often. Similarly 65% of Facebook news users get news via key word search very or somewhat often, as do 69% of Twitter news users.