Facebook May Have Less of a ‘fake news’ Problem Than it Thinks

While Facebook has been in the news (and in front of Congress) quite a bit recently in light of its role in the spread of misinformation and “fake news,” there may be a bright spot in the clouds for the tech giant. According to new data from the 2018 National Technology Readiness Survey by Rockbridge Associates, fewer than three in ten (28%) of those who use Facebook as their primary social media platform use it as a news source.

Even among younger consumers, Facebook is not as influential as perhaps it once was. Only half (51%) of 18-34 year olds consider it their primary social media platform, and only four in ten of those (42%) use it as a news source. In contrast, almost nine in ten (87%) use it to keep in touch with friends and family, and two-thirds (66%) use it for entertainment.

Consumers also seem to recognize the pitfalls of social media use despite spending almost 9 hours a week on it, on average. For instance, 42% of social media users disagree that the medium improves their personal relationships.  In fact, 18-34 year olds are twice as likely to disagree (33%) than agree (17%). Consumers are also twice as likely to disagree (34% vs. 16%) that social media makes them feel more informed about issues, and five times as likely to disagree than agree that “without social media, I wouldn’t know what is going on in the world” (54% disagree vs. 10% agree).

If any efforts are made to change the way Facebook works and appeals to today’s consumers, they must account for why consumers actually use the platform and their current perceptions of the role of social media in their lives.

About the Study: The National Technology Readiness Survey is conducted by Rockbridge Associates, Inc. and A. Parasuraman, and has tracked technology and e-commerce trends since 1999.  The survey is co-sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Service at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.  The most recent wave is based on an online survey wave of 1,053 U.S. adults sampled at random from a consumer research panel in May 2018. A total of 499 were asked about their social media habits. Results are weighted to match census characteristics.

Written by: Hilary Ross-Rojas, Research Director and Charles Colby, Chief Methodologist