Social media’s dominance of the public’s time and attention has reached new heights, according to a study released Friday.
More people than ever reportedly get their news from social media, and about half of the online American public relied on social networks for learning about the 2016 presidential election. Social media has become a staple at work and to find work. Younger people, many of whom who grew up with mobile phones, are relying more than ever on messaging apps to organize and communicate.
Of all the social media on the Internet today, Facebook is far and away the most popular — and thereby the most influential.
As of April, nearly 8 out of every 10 people who use the Internet had a Facebook account, according to the study released Friday by the Pew Research Center, which recorded a more than 7 percent jump in the number of Facebook users from last year.
That’s more than double the number of people who use Twitter (24 percent of people online), scrapbooking tool Pinterest (31 percent), Facebook’s photo- and video-sharing app Instagram (32 percent) or professional networking website LinkedIn (29 percent).
With 1.18 billion people checking Facebook daily as of September, the social media juggernaut has quickly become one of the most significant distributors of information in the world.
Not all the information on Facebook is correct. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, interviewed at the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay this week, defended his company against accusations that the fake news items circulated on the social network influenced the results of Tuesday’s presidential election. Some of the false posts included claims that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would be criminally charged for having used a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
“Voters make decisions based on their lived experience,” Zuckerberg said in an onstage interview with David Kirkpatrick, author of “The Facebook Effect.” “I think there is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason why someone could have voted the way they did is because they saw some fake news.”
Facebook, which has continued to attract older members, remains wide-ranging in terms of who uses the site, the study showed. About 88 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds have Facebook accounts, while 62 percent of those 65 and older have joined.
Those older users, though, appear to be powering the company’s growth.
“Thanks in part to the growing number of older adults who are joining the site, Facebook use appears to be on the rise,” according to the Pew report.
Other social media have been unable to break into that demographic in the same way.
LinkedIn, which has the second-most users age 65 and up, boasts about 20 percent of that group.
The Pew study was conducted by surveying a national sample of 1,520 adults aged 18 and up from March to April of this year. Respondents live in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.