Social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube now a key source of news for young adults

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  • The study from Reuters shows that use of Facebook is declining, though more people rely exclusively on social media for information
  • Young adults consider independent journalism less important than those over age 55
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A new study shows that about 30 per cent of young adults use social media as their primary news source.

Social media platforms are playing an increasingly important role in how young adults consume news, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report published on Tuesday.

According to the report, 30 per cent of the 18 to 24-year-olds surveyed said that social media was their most important source of news. This is a significant increase from the 2019 survey, when the figure was 22 per cent.

In addition, 9 per cent in this age group say they obtain news exclusively via social media - in 2019 it was 5 per cent.

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The study includes social media platforms on which users can post content themselves, such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube.

The report comes as newspapers, broadcasters, magazines and other media outlets are increasingly delivering news content tailored for social media platforms.

Another striking feature of the study: The relevance of independent journalism for society varies within the age groups.

While 88 per cent of those surveyed aged 55 and over consider independent journalism important for the functioning of a society, the figure is significantly lower in the 18 to 24 age group, at 56 per cent.

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But the news isn’t all good for social media platforms, as the study shows.

Facebook’s share of news usage is declining in all age groups under 45, losing as much as six percentage points in the 18-24 age group, the report says. Instagram is also losing ground in this age group, with the figure falling from 23 per cent to 20 per cent.

The study was conducted simultaneously in numerous countries under the coordination of the UK-based Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Since 2012, global and national trends in news usage have been identified in about 40 countries on six continents.

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