Younger audiences are leaving Facebook to discuss news on WhatsApp instead

The use of Facebook to consume news has started to fall in the United States as many young people turn towards messaging apps such as Facebook-owned WhatsApp to discuss events, the Reuters Institute found. Although Facebook (and Twitter) are still used by many to discover news, the research indicates that the trend is for the discussion to take place on messaging apps, often because people feel more comfortable under the relative privacy that they afford.

The research also exposes the volatility of consumer tastes as the news industry tries to grapple with the impact of the internet and smartphones that have transformed both the way people consume news and the way media companies make money.

  • Use of Facebook is down 9% from 2017 in the US and down 20% for younger audiences, according to the survey.
  • Fewer than half of people surveyed said they trusted the media most of the time, though in the United States just 34% said they trusted most news, most of the time, down 4%.
  • In the United States, local television news and the Wall Street Journal were the most trusted news brands while in the United Kingdom it was BBC news and ITV news.
  • Fox News and Breitbart were trusted more by those on the right of the political spectrum in the United States while those on the left trusted CNN more.

The YouGov polling for the Reuters Institute of 74,000 respondents, was conducted mostly before Facebook faced criticism in the Cambridge Analytica debacle.

The use of social media for news has started to fall in a number of key markets after years of continuous growth. , said in the Digital News Report. We continue to see a rise in the use of messaging apps for news as consumers look for more private (and less confrontational) spaces to communicate.

Nic Newman, research associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.