In its latest News Consumption in the UK published last week (27th July), Ofcom found that while social media platforms are a popular source of news, users often do not trust them.
Despite the rising popularity of the internet, the survey found that TV is still the most-used news platform in the UK, especially for the over-65s (93 per cent). But that remains true for the adults generally - nearly eight in 10 Brits get their news from the telly.
When looking at the 16-24s, however, the trend reverses. The majority (89 per cent) use the internet for news, and this is also true about audiences from minority ethnic groups (85 per cent).
Around half of UK adults (49 per cent) said they use social media for news, and the same number of respondents uses ‘other websites and apps’, including those from news organisations or brands like LADbible. Around one in five uses news aggregators and a quarter of people said they use search engines to find news.
Podcasts still remain a niche source of news - only 1 in 10 adults said that they consume news this way, while 12 per cent of those using social media for news turn to TikTok - quite an increase from 4 per cent in 2020.
The BBC remains the most followed news organisation across the social media, followed by Sky News on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, ITV on Facebook and The Sun on Snapchat.
When asked to rate various news platforms on measures such as importance, trustworthiness and impartiality, social media platforms scored lower than news outlets, which received similar ratings to those they were given last year. As in 2020, around half of social media news users said they knew the source of news stories ‘most’ or ‘all’ of the time.
As in previous years, just under six in ten (57 per cent) children aged 12-15 said that they were interested in the news. Common reasons for engaging with the news included ‘to understand what’s going on around me’, ‘to learn about new things’ and ‘to be made to think’. Children were especially interested in news about music (53 per cent), followed by celebrities (45 per cent), the environment (44 per cent) and serious things happening in the UK (43 per cent).
12-15 year-olds also said that talking to family members and watching TV were their main sources of news, followed by social media and talking to friends. The children cited family, radio, podcasts and TV as the most truthful news sources, while they believed social media and friends to be the least truthful.
Two in five 12-15 year olds using social media for news said that they always or often thought about whether stories were reported accurately. More than half said it was difficult to tell whether the news on social media is accurate and two fifths (41 per cent) said they had seen a deliberately untrue or misleading news story online in the past 12 months.
When asked what they would do if they wanted to check a news story they had seen, social media news users aged 12-15 commonly said that they would ‘look at the comments about the story’ and ‘check if the same story appears anywhere else’.
The most common actions they would take if they saw a deliberately misleading story included telling parents or another family member (37 per cent), followed by telling friends (21 per cent). A third said they would probably just ignore it.