Instagram, TikTok now most popular news source among British teens

  • Instagram was the most popular with young people and was used by 29 per cent of teenagers, ahead of TikTok and YouTube’s 28 per cent
  • However, trust in social media news sources varies – only half of YouTube and Twitter users think they provide trustworthy news stories while fewer than 30 per cent trust TikTok’s news content
Reuters |

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Teenagers in the UK are increasingly getting their news from social media rather than news channels. Photo: Shutterstock

Teenagers in Britain are increasingly turning to social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube for news and are moving away from traditional outlets, media regulator Ofcom said in a report on Thursday.

Ofcom’s latest report on news consumption in Britain outlined how a range of age groups consumed news differently and showed for the first time that Instagram was the most popular news source among teenagers.

Replacing more traditional news sources, 29 per cent of teens used Meta Platform Inc’s Instagram to follow the news while TikTok and Alphabet’s YouTube were also used by 28 per cent of teenagers for news.

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Across platforms, TikTok saw the largest growth in use of any news source in Britain, mainly driven by younger age groups, with half its news users aged 16 to 24, the report said.

Users on TikTok also received more of their news on the platform from “other people they follow” than from news organisations, the report added.

“Teenagers today are increasingly unlikely to pick up a newspaper or tune into TV news, instead preferring to keep up-to-date by scrolling through their social feeds,” Ofcom’s Group Director for Strategy and Research Yih-Choung Teh said.

Fact checkers say YouTube allows its platform to be used as a weapon of disinformation

Despite TikTok’s popularity, Ofcom’s report said in those aged 12-15, it was only trusted by three out of 10 who used it for news content. While 12- to 15-year-olds remained more sceptical about news on social media than other sources, half of those who used YouTube and Twitter for news did trust them.

Overall TV news remained the most trusted news source in Britain, with Sky News and BBC trusted by their viewers for news while news on social media was considered the least reliable.

Not all social media platforms fared as well. The report showed that the proportion of teenagers using Facebook for news fell to 22 per cent from 27 per cent last year, continuing a decline since 2018.

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