Facebook was named as a news outlet by one in ten people when they were asked to name a source of a story they read online. About half of Americans cannot remember where they got their news when they saw it online, according to a Pew study. It must be noted that Facebook doesn’t want us to think it’s a media company.

Facebook Slideshow
Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabayfacebook

Facebook being viewed as a news outlet

According to a survey, Facebook is being viewed by American citizens as a news outlet in its own right. The social media giant does not produce any of the news stories hosted on its site, but it was among the top companies that were named when respondents were asked to recall a source of news. This recent data shows how hard it is for readers to determine where the information they encounter is coming from and whether the news they read is reliable, notes Recode.

In February 2016, Pew surveyed more than 2,000 adults to learn about how Americans engage and interact with the news online. The people surveyed were asked about the news that they encountered within the two hours before being surveyed. The most common ways for people to get news online are via social media posts and by visiting the website of a news outlet directly, at 35% and 36%, respectively.

News habits of online users

Pew found that people are likely to use search engines to discover and read news, and in many cases, they open an email from a news outlet, at 20% and 15%, respectively. Respondents were able to provide the name 56% of the time when they were asked to recall the name of the news outlet they read from.

However, if the news was encountered first on a social networking site, they were less likely to know than if the news came directly from the publisher.

“That makes sense, considering news found on social media has a lot of layers to peel back,” says Recode.

But when it comes to engaging with the news – deliberating it, sharing it, and learning more about the story – respondents were far more likely to do so if it came from a text or an email from family or friends or if they found the news themselves from a search engine. The likelihood of engagement went down when the story was found on social media or came from a news outlet directly.

Health news and community affairs were the most engaging when it came to the topic of news that was most likely to catalyze a follow-up action like share.