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Survey: Facebook is Growing News Source, But Trusted? Not So Much

More than half of all adults in the U.S. (55%) get news from social media sites (either "often" or "sometimes"), up from 47% in 2018, with Facebook the most popular site for news by a wide margin. But there is concern over the control social media sites have over the news they serve up, and how they use it.

That is according to a Pew survey July 8-21 of 5,107 U.S. adults (margin of error plus or minus 1.7 percentage points).

Over half (52%) said they got news from Facebook, with YouTube second at 28%, followed by Twitter, 17%, and Instagram 14%.

But a solid majority (62%) said that social media companies like Facebook have too much control over the news their users see on the platforms, and 55% said that results in a "worse" mix of news. Only 15% said it results in a better mix and only 21% said social media platforms have the "right amount" of control over the news people see.

And while some platforms have announced plans to favor high-quality news sources, only 34% said they think social media platforms favor outlets with high reporting standards and only 18% said they favor those with "politically neutral coverage."

Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more likely (75%) to say social media companies have too much control over the news that people see while only about half (53%) of Democrats and leaners say so.

A large majority (82%) said social media companies treat some news organizations differently than others, with 88% saying the sites favor "attention-grabbing articles," 84% said they favor sites with high traffic and 79% say they favor those whose coverage has "a certain political stance."

About half of the respondents (48%) said the posts about news they see on social media are liberal or very liberal, while only 14% said they were conservative or very conservative.

Complaints, primarily from Republicans, about Silicon Valley censorship of conservative speech was reflected in the poll, though less than half (43%) of Republicans and Republican leaners said that censorship of speech in general was a "very big" problem on social media, compared to 30% of Democrats who said it was.

About a third of Democrats and leaners (36%) said that online harassment of journalists was a big problem, while only 17% of Republicans and leaners said so.