25% of Aussies use social media as main news source, despite Meta claims

social media Nielsen

32% of Australians use Facebook for news, despite Meta saying news is “a small part of the Facebook experience for the vast majority of people.”

One in four Australians now say that social media is their main source of news, despite Meta claiming a sharp decline in interest was a key reason for ending its deals to pay for news content.

The 2024 Digital News Report – released this week and led by the University of Canberra and Reuters Institute – found that three in four Gen Zs (74%) access news on social media: a 15 percentage point increase from last year.

Facebook remains the most popular social media platform among Australians, the report said, with 66% using it generally and 32% using it for news. 

This year’s survey was conducted prior to Meta confirming it would not renew its deals to pay Australian publishers for news content. The company attributed the decision to a drop in traffic to the dedicated Facebook News Tab.

Meta said the number of people using Facebook News in Australia and the US has dropped by over 80% last year, however, the report finds that Facebook is still the top social media platform for news among Australians. 

Social media

“We know that people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content – they come to connect with people and discover new opportunities, passions and interests,” Meta said in a statement in March.

“As we previously shared in 2023, news makes up less than 3% of what people around the world see in their Facebook feed, and is a small part of the Facebook experience for the vast majority of people.”

See also: Meta pulls the pin on news media deals with publishers and axes news tab

Meta has been contacted for comment.

Writing in the report, Crystal Andrews, founder and editor of Zee Feed, said Meta’s looming threat to block news for Australian users on all its platforms may come to fruition in a matter of weeks.

“Whether we like it or not, Facebook and Instagram have become important news channels for millions of Australians,” she said.

“Banning news would be a devastating blow to small publications, news ‘creators’, and the overall diversity of the media landscape.”

Andrews added that on social media, audiences get access to a range of informed perspectives, and news with a view that comes from ‘somewhere’.

“This is something mainstream news publishers don’t do very well on their own platforms.

“The result will be a population less engaged with news and more reliant on the opinions of ‘everyday’ people who reflect their point-of-view. 

“Whether this increases the spread of misinformation and poor journalistic practices any more than some sections of the mainstream media is up for debate.”

Gen Zs’ use of social media as a general source of news is on the rise, their engagement with online, print and radio news decreased to 49%.

However, for older generations, TV remains the most common source for news. Gen X (57%), Baby Boomers (74%), and 78+ (77%). Gen Y is the outlier, with online news websites being their top source of news (59%).

Overall, TV as a main source of news declined since 2023, dropping 4 percentage points to 36% this year.

See also: SBS News crowned Australia’s most trusted news brand

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