A new report reveals that the youngest generations of today are more likely to trust news they receive from social media influencers rather than from actual news outlets and reporters.
As Fox News reports, the study was conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism out of the University of Oxford. The survey found that 55 percent of TikTok users get their news from “personalities” on the platform, with another 52 percent of respondents saying the same thing for Instagram influencers.
Meanwhile, a mere 33 percent of TikTok users get their news from actual news outlets and journalists, while only 42 percent of Instagram users say the same.
“Perhaps the most striking findings in this year’s report relate to the changing nature of social media, partly characterized by declining engagement with traditional networks such as Facebook and the rise of TikTok and a range of other video-led networks,” said Nic Newman, a senior research associate at the Reuters Institute. “Our data show, more clearly than ever, how this shift is strongly influenced by habits of the youngest generations, who have grown up with social media and nowadays often pay more attention to influencers or celebrities than they do to journalists, even when it comes to news.”
By contrast, Facebook users are still more likely to trust the mainstream media for their news, with 43 percent preferring actual news sources while 38 percent trust Facebook personalities. On Twitter, 55 percent of users still prefer the mainstream media, compared to 42 percent who prefer Twitter personalities. These findings in particular reflect the growing divide among social media users, with Facebook and Twitter being seen as the “older” social media platforms, frequented by Baby Boomers and Generation X, while TikTok is on the rise and becoming more popular with younger users such as Generation Z, or “Zoomers.”
Five years ago, in 2018, at least 32 percent of young people said they would choose the mainstream media as sources of news. Today, that number is down to just 22 percent. In the same timeframe, the number of young people who preferred social media for news rose from 23 percent to 30 percent.
TikTok, despite its rising popularity, has been widely criticized for a number of security and privacy concerns regarding users’ sensitive data. The social media platform is owned by the Chinese-based ByteDance, which has produced additional concerns of national security, leading several states and localities to pass legislation banning the use of the app on government devices and in general.