Pew: Social Media Still Draw Crowd Despite D.C.s Concerns

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Despite "relatively negative sentiments" about some aspects of social media, seven in ten Americans said they use social media, with Facebook and YouTube dominating that answer, though in the younger demos, other platforms get heavy use as well. That's according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. Those sites are also the most-used by older adults.

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That comes as legislators talk about restricting such sites' liability immunity for third party content and hammer their executives over alleged censorship, privacy issues, hate speech, abetting domestic terrorism, algorithmic discrimination and more.

According to a phone survey of 1,502 adults, 72% use at least one social media site. Of those, 81% said they use YouTube and 69% said they use Facebook. That share has remained stable over the past half decade. Facebook users are very active on the platform, with 70% using it at least once a day and about half multiple times. Only about a quarter said they have used Twitter.

The survey found that Reddit and YouTube were the only platforms included in the study that saw significant growth over the past two years, with YouTube up from 73% in 2019 and Reddit up from 11% in 2019 to 18% in the recent survey.

About 40% of the respondents said they use Instagram, about 30% use Pinterest and about 25% said they have used Snapchat, Twitter or WhatsApp. Only 21% said they have used TikTok.

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But when it comes to younger demos, those platforms show up big. A majority of the 18-29 demo say they use Instagram (71%) or Snapchat (65%) and about half (48%) said they use TikTok.

Among the other takeaways:

Hispanics are twice as likely (46%) to use WhatsApp as Blacks (23%) and almost three times as likely as Whites (16%).

Pinterest over indexes for women, with 46% saying they use it while only 16% of men said they do.

The survey was conducted Jan. 25-Feb. 8, 2021, via cellphone and landline and was weighted to be representative of gender, race, ethnicity, education and more. The margin of error is 2.9 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.