The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2023 reveals that TikTok “has been the fastest-growing social platform in the last year”. The percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds using TikTok has risen from five per cent in 2019 to 38 per cent this year – ahead of Snapchat (35 per cent) and Twitter (33 per cent). One in five (20 per cent) of 18- to 24-year-olds use TikTok as a news source.
In contrast to the rising popularity of TikTok, the number of young people using Facebook has fallen from 72 per cent in 2014 to 38 per cent in 2023.
Instagram and WhatsApp are the most popular social networks among 18- to 24-year-olds, used by 60 and 54 per cent respectively.
Users of TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat tend to pay more attention to celebrities and social-media influencers than they do to journalists or media companies when it comes to news topics, according to the report.
In the UK, the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds going to news websites and apps for news has halved since 2015 – falling from 53 per cent to 24 per cent. During this time, those using social media as their main way to get news online has risen from 18 per cent to 43 per cent.
The report is based on a survey of more than 93,000 people in 46 countries, including the UK, conducted by YouGov in January and February this year.
Writing in the foreword, Professor Rasmus Nielsen, director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, says younger generations have “little interest in many conventional news offers oriented towards older generations’ habits, interests, and values, and instead embrace the more personality-based, participatory, and personalised options offered by social media”.
People who have grown up with social media “often pay more attention to influencers or celebrities than they do to journalists, even when it comes to news”, the report says.
It also reveals widespread concern over fake news, with more than half (56 per cent) of people globally worried about identifying the difference between what is real and fake on the internet when it comes to news. Those who mainly use social media as a source of news are more worried (64 per cent) than people who don’t use it at all (50 per cent).