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How Facebook and Twitter Became Your Newspapers

You knew that already. Now you have charts to prove it.

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Remember when people thought of Facebook as a place to throw sheep at undergraduates and Twitter as a place to read about what people ate for breakfast?

That was a long time ago!*

Now Facebook and Twitter are news distributors. You can debate whether that means they’re potential allies for traditional news publishers, or competitors, or both. But there’s no debate about what they do.

Here’s the latest, from Pew: More than 60 percent of Facebook users and Twitter users say they use the services to learn about news — which Pew defines as “information about events & issues beyond just your friends and family.”

And while older Facebook and Twitter users say they don’t rely on the services as their primary source of news (that’s what Jon Stewart is for), that’s not true for the young ’uns. Nearly half of adults 34 or younger who get news from Facebook or Twitter say the services are “the most or an important way they get news.” Would have been cool to see Snapchat in this survey…

And while this isn’t news to you, the well-informed Re/code reader, let’s spell it out anyway: The notion of relying on Twitter and Facebook for news is no longer a niche behavior. More than 40 percent of the U.S. uses Facebook this way. And even Twitter, which doesn’t have enough users to please Wall Street, manages to provide news for 10 percent of the country.

Now for a much more complicated question: Who makes money when you read news on Facebook or Twitter? That one we’re still figuring out.

* Though you can still get GI tract updates on Twitter.

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