April 10, 2018

5 facts about Americans and Facebook

Facebook is in the national spotlight this week as its co-founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, testifies before Congress. Zuckerberg is expected to face questions from lawmakers over the company’s recent disclosure that data on up to 87 million of its users may have been improperly shared with a political consulting firm during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. His trip to Capitol Hill comes as many Americans express concerns over the way social media firms are handling personal information.

Here are five facts about Americans’ use of Facebook, drawn from recent Pew Research Center surveys:

1Around two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) use Facebook, according to a survey conducted in January 2018. That’s unchanged from April 2016, the last time the Center asked, but up from 54% of adults in August 2012. With the exception of YouTube – the video-sharing platform used by 73% of adults – no other major social media platform comes close to Facebook in terms of usage. Around a third of Americans say they use Instagram (35%) while smaller shares say they use Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp.

2Facebook is popular among all demographic groups, though some groups are more likely to use it than others. Nearly three-quarters of women in the U.S. (74%) use the platform, compared with 62% of men. There are differences by community type and education level, too: People in urban areas are more likely than those in suburban or rural areas to use Facebook, as are those with a college degree when compared with people who have lower levels of education. Around eight-in-ten (81%) of those ages 18 to 29 use Facebook; that’s about double the share among those 65 and older (41%). However, the share of older Americans who use the platform has doubled since August 2012, when just 20% of those 65 and older said they used it.

3Most Facebook users visit the site at least once a day. Around three-quarters of the platform’s U.S. users (74%) say they visit the site on a daily basis, according to the January 2018 survey. That’s statistically no different from April 2016, the last time the Center asked this question. The share of users who visit Facebook at least once a day is higher than the share who visit Snapchat (63%) and Instagram (60%) at least once a day. However, Facebook and Snapchat have similar shares of users who say they visit each respective site several times a day (51% versus 49%).

4Nearly half of all U.S. adults (45%) get news from Facebook, according to a survey conducted in August 2017. The share of U.S. adults who get news through Facebook is much higher than the share who get news through YouTube (18%), Twitter (11%), Instagram (7%), Snapchat (5%), LinkedIn (5%) and other platforms.

5While a substantial share of Americans get news from Facebook and other social media sites, very few people express much trust in information on these sites. Only 5% of online Americans say they have “a lot” of trust in the information they get from social media sites, while another 33% say they have “some” trust in it, according to a March 2017 survey. The share of online Americans who have at least some trust in the information they get from social media (37%) is far lower than the share of U.S. adults who have at least some trust in the information they get from local news organizations (85%), friends and family (76%) and national news organizations (72%).

Topics: Social Media, Technology Adoption

  1. Photo of John Gramlich

    is a writer/editor at Pew Research Center.