Established social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter differ in key ways from alternative social media sites such as Parler and Truth Social, a recent Pew Research Center study found. And these differences extend to the kinds of links that are shared by prominent accounts on each type of social media site, according to a new Center analysis.
Prominent accounts on Twitter are far more likely than those on alternative social media sites to link to news media outlets such as print publications, television and wire services. In fact, roughly two-thirds (66%) of all links shared by prominent Twitter accounts in June 2022 directed readers to such news media outlets, compared with only 5% of the links shared by prominent accounts on seven alternative social media sites studied by the Center: BitChute, Gab, Gettr, Parler, Rumble, Telegram and Truth Social. (Note: This analysis predates the completion of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter.)
So where do prominent accounts on alternative social media sites direct their audiences, if not to news media? In many cases, the answer is to other social media sites.
A substantial share of Americans get news from social media. This Pew Research Center analysis seeks to understand one element of the information environment on social media by examining the links that are shared by prominent accounts on different sites.
To conduct this analysis, researchers at the Center collected a list of 1,125 prominent accounts on Twitter, as well as 200 prominent accounts on each of seven alternative social media sites: BitChute, Gab, Gettr, Parler, Rumble, Telegram and Truth Social. Researchers then collected all the posts from those accounts from June 2022 and analyzed all the links they contained. Read the full methodology for more information on how the analysis was conducted.
Some 45% of all links shared by prominent accounts on these sites went to different social media brands, whether to more established sites such as YouTube or Twitter (24%) or to various alternative sites such as BitChute or Gab (21%).
Prominent accounts on both Twitter and the seven alternative social media sites studied posted a similar share of links (around one-in-five) to digital-only outlets of various kinds.
The differences between links shared on Twitter and those shared on alternative social media sites are also pronounced when looking at the most common individual sites shared by prominent accounts.
All 10 most-shared sites by prominent accounts on Twitter in June 2022 were the online sites of news media organizations such as The Washington Post, Reuters or The New York Times. By contrast, the 10 most-shared sites by prominent alternative social media accounts primarily went to other social media, as well as to two digital-only outlets: The Gateway Pundit and Rebel News.
While these differences in linking practices between more established and alternative social media sites are notable, they may not come as a surprise to regular visitors of the alternative social media universe. In the Center’s recent study, 52% of those who regularly get news on alternative social media sites say that they either extremely or fairly often see news on these sites that they would not have seen elsewhere.