In what should come as no surprise to anyone who's spent hours sifting through their friends' Facebook photos, most Americans do not get their news from the world's largest social networking site, a new study finds. And those who do usually get it by accident.
According to the report ("The Role of News on Facebook") released on Thursday by the Pew Research Center, roughly two-thirds (64%) of U.S. adults use Facebook, and less than half (47%) of those users “ever” get news there. That means about 30 percent of Americans are considered “Facebook news consumers," Pew said.
But even the vast majority of those users who do get news on Facebook aren't searching for it.
According to the survey, conducted at the end of August and early September, 78 percent of Facebook news consumers say they mostly get news when they are on the site for other reasons. And just 4 percent say it's the most important way they get their news.
“People go to Facebook to share personal moments, and they discover the news almost incidentally," Amy Mitchell, Pew Research Center’s director of journalism research, wrote in the study.
“I believe Facebook is a good way to find out news without actually looking for it," one respondent wrote.
But according to Mitchell, the "serendipitous nature of news on Facebook may actually increase its importance as a source of news," especially for those who do not follow the news closely.
“If it wasn't for Facebook news,” wrote another respondent, “I'd probably never really know what's going on in the world because I don't have time to keep up with the news.”
And while Facebook news consumers watch local and cable news roughly as much as the overall population, just 21 percent read print newspapers, compared with 27 percent of the rest of the country.
See the full results of the Pew survey.