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article imageDecline in people using Facebook for news

By Tim Sandle     Jun 15, 2018 in Internet
The seventh annual Digital News Report has found there has been a decline in the number of people indicating they use Facebook as a news source. Instead WhatsApp gains in popularity.
The slight decline with Facebook being a site that users go to access news does not make better reading for traditional news outlets; instead a proportion of people are turning to other applications to post and to discuss news items. There's a reason for this shift, according to the Digital News Report, which is that fewer users are accessing news on Facebook due to concerns about privacy. A secondary reason is the sometimes unpleasant nature of debate or abuse that some people are subjected to when they comment online.
A third factor, and one which Facebook put in place following the Cambridge Analytica issues (see: "Facebook sends Cambridge Analytica warning to users"), is with changes made to Facebook's algorithms, which have de-prioritised news in many people's feeds.
The new report comes from Oxford University together with Reuters, with data drawn from a YouGov survey of over 74,000 online news consumers across 37 countries. This year the report focuses on "the issues of trust and misinformation, new online business models, the impact of changing Facebook algorithms and the rise of new platforms and messaging apps."
The headline finding, which the BBC picks up on, is that younger audiences are more likely to use WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat for news and information. In other words, a switch towards more personal and private spaces.
In terms of access to news. the survey reaffirms one from the European Commission Joint Research Centre, which demonstrates that the majority of the populace seeks news in a digital format and many prefer to access news and related content through algorithm-driven platforms (see: "Changing role of news in the digital age").
However, trust in news overall stood has dropped to 44 percent. More worryingly, only 34 percent of those surveyed indicated they trusted news they found via Internet search; and only a low proportion (23 percent) trust news as posted on social networks.
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