Facebook has about 1.39 billion monthly active users, about 2.6 million of whom live in Maryland. While many Baby Boomers may use the social network as a way to catch up with people, a shocking number of Millennials actually use it to get their news.
According to a recent Pew survey, a staggering 61% of Millennials get their political news from Facebook. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, primarily rely on local TV for their political news at nearly the same reach (60%).
“I mean, Facebook is to us what TV was to our parents and then radio to our great-grandparents,” Minerva Project student, Michael Yang, told USA Today.
Pew’s report is based on an online survey that was conducted in March and April of 2014. Researchers asked 2,901 members of the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel about their political news and information habits.
Interestingly, the inverse is true, as well. Only about 37% of Millennials rely on local TV news, while just about 39% of Baby Boomers get their news from Facebook.
Even more fascinating, Generation Xers, who come between Millennials and Baby Boomers, take both sides. Pew found that nearly half (51%) of Gen Xers get their political news on Facebook, and about 46% get it on local TV.
“People are always sharing stuff on Facebook and people are always on Facebook,” recent high school graduate Elijah Peake told USA Today. “[The news] is sort of forced on you.”
Peake has a point. Facebook may force news on its owners, according to another Pew survey analyzing the role of news on Facebook. It found that 30% of the U.S. adult population receives news on Facebook, but 78% reported that they see news while on the site for other reasons. In other words their news consumption was incidental, not deliberate.
Nevertheless, the numbers don’t lie. Facebook is more than a social network for Millennials. It’s also a political platform.