Growing Number of Americans Turning to TikTok for News, Research Finds

Growing Number of Americans Turning to TikTok for News, Research Finds
The TikTok logo on an iPhone in London on Feb. 28, 2023. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Katabella Roberts

A growing number of TikTok users now get their news from the video-sharing app, with almost a third of adults between 18 and 29 regularly using the platform for news while consumption of news across other social media sites has declined, according to new research published Nov. 15.

According to the survey data by Pew Research, in just three years, the share of U.S. adults who say they regularly get news from Chinese-owned TikTok has more than quadrupled, rising from just 3 percent in 2020 to 14 percent in 2023.

Pew Research surveyed 8,842 adults from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, 2023, via self-administered web surveys. The data has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 1.6 percentage points.

Among adults, those ages 18 to 29 are most likely to say they regularly get news on TikTok, with roughly a third of Americans in this age group, or 32 percent, regularly getting their news from the app, marking a rise compared to previous years.

Among adults ages 30 to 49, 15 percent regularly get their news from the app while 7 percent of those 50 to 64 and just 3 percent of those 65 and older use the app to catch up on news, according to the data.

Overall, more of TikTok’s U.S. adult users are also getting news from the app, according to the findings, with 43 percent of users saying they regularly get news on the site, up from 33 percent who said the same in 2022.

"TikTok users are now just as likely to get news from TikTok as Facebook users are to get news from Facebook," Pew Research noted. "Still, TikTok users are less likely than users of X, formerly Twitter, to get news on the site."

Still, the number of users who rely on X and Facebook for news has dropped since 2020, according to Pew Research, down from 54 percent in 2020 to 43 percent in 2023 for Facebook, owned by Meta, and 59 percent to 53 percent for X.

TikTok Like 'Digital Fentanyl'

In contrast, Instagram, which is also owned by Meta, has also seen increased use in terms of news, with the number of users who rely on the video sharing social networking service for news up from 28 percent in 2020 to 34 this year.
Overall, however, Facebook remains the most popular social media platform for news consumption, with roughly three in 10 U.S. adults regularly getting their news from the site.

The findings come as TikTok, which debuted in China in 2016 before launching worldwide in 2018, has faced increased scrutiny from experts and Republican lawmakers over fears the app poses a national security risk, with data on users in the United States potentially falling into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, and the app being used to spread propaganda.

As a result, the United States has already banned the app from government devices, as has Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.

TikTok has insisted the Chinese regime does not have access to U.S. user data as its popularity has surged nationwide.

On Monday, Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) likened the app's algorithm—which is heavily focused on engagement to ensure continued use of the app—to a form of "digital fentanyl" that makes addicts of its users.

Speaking with "NTD News Today," the Florida congresswoman said: "It really is a chemical alteration in your brain that happens. It's kind of like digital fentanyl."

Ms. Cammack also cited concerns over reports indicating TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, tracks the keyboard inputs of its users.

"Their entire goal is to show you more things to keep you on the screen, while on the back end of the app, they're tracking your keystrokes, they're getting access to sensitive information on your phone, who you're talking to," she said. "It is entirely designed to harvest Americans' data and hold on to it for asymmetrical warfare purposes."

Ryan Morgan contributed to this report.
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