How social networks have taken control of information consumption

by bold-lichterman

In terms of information consumption, the growing role of Facebook is inexorable and has now become established. In 2016, nearly half of Internet users said they used social networks to get information, according to the latest edition of the Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute of Journalism. In France, 9% of Internet users even say that social networks are their main source of information. This is twice as much as in 2015.

More surprisingly, information posted by traditional media, in the United Kingdom and Canada, is less clearly identified on the press site than when the same information is posted on a social network. Similarly, in Japan and South Korea, the media brand is only seen once in four when it comes from an aggregator like Google, the study notes. Under these conditions, the authors wonder about what, in the long term, will remain in advertising shares and in audience on media sites.

Internet users confident in the recommendation algorithms of social networks

If social networks are experiencing such growth in the news segment, it is first and foremost thanks to the experience and the tools they offer. Asked about the reasons that push them to favor social networks for information, 60% of respondents cite the possibility of receiving alerts and having access to the very first information. Half of them put forward the possibility of having easy access to different sources of information, and 35% appreciate being able to comment and share information easily. Finally, they are 16% to underline the fact that the networks can detect their centers of interest.


The study also reminds us, and not surprisingly, that it is the youngest Internet users who use social networks the most (64% of 18-24 year olds). The oldest people prefer television (53% of those over 55).

Contrary to what one might think, Internet users also appreciate that the information that reaches them via social networks is pre-selected for them. More than a third consider information selected from what they have read before to be the most relevant, and 30% of them rely on the judgment of journalists and editors to choose content for them. Finally, almost a quarter of respondents think that the information recommended on the basis of what their contacts liked is the most relevant.

While they appreciate the possibilities offered by the recommendation algorithms of social networks, Internet users nevertheless express concerns about their systematic use. In the United States, 59% of them fear that they will lack divergent points of view on a subject, and 49% worry about the protection of their privacy.

11% of French people have paid for information online

With nearly 40% of Internet users obtaining information via social networks, France is following the trend. In addition, networks have also overtaken print for two years. Facebook is the top favorite for the French for information (42%), followed by Youtube (21%). Twitter comes in 3rd place, with 8% of Internet users using it for information. It should be noted that in the morning, the French still prefer the radio (at 30%), followed closely by television (at 28%).


Another finding of the study, only 11% of French Internet users say they have paid for information online over the last twelve months. They are also 30% to use an adblocker, which places France in 4th place of the countries most consumers of adblocking of the study. Among the reasons mentioned by respondents: the excessive number of online advertisements and their unwanted nature (at 65%), and their too intrusive nature (at 51%). Finally, 39% of French people believe that it is a way to increase the loading speed of their pages. So many constraints on which social networks have understood that they have a card to play.

** Methodology: carried out by YouGov for the Reuters Institute of Journalism, the online survey was conducted in January and February 2061. The authors of the study insist on the fact that the choice to carry out the online questionnaire excludes makes the field of the study people who use the Internet little, who can however be heavy current consumers. 53,330 people responded to the online questionnaire, divided equally between the 26 countries targeted by the scope of the study.

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