Have social media platforms become the most reliable source of information for young users?


According to the Digital News Report 2023, released by Reuters Institute, social media platforms like Youtube, Instagram and Tik Tok have become the most reliable source of information. Young users (aged 8-24) are more interested in watching social media influencers and celebrities than journalists, especially when it comes to news.

The report highlights how basic consumer spending has left news subscriptions way behind even when life-altering incidents like war and recession are happening across the world. The most striking highlight of the report is how people are shifting from conventional sources of news to social media to staying updated and unsurprisingly, the biggest percentage of these users are from the younger generations. The report mentioned that 52% of Instagram users, 55% of Tik-Tok and Snapchat users get their news form social media personalities as compared to 33-42% who get it from mainstream media and journalists on these platforms.


Facebook, over the years has been the most trusted source of information when it comes to social media for gathering news but due to the ever expanding reach of Tik-Tok in the western and Asian countries, reliance of users on the platform for news has decreased by 12% in 2023 as compared to 2016. On Tik-Tok, Instagram and Snapchat, users rely more on influencers and celebrities for news whereas on Facebook and Twitter, journalists still have the baton of trust in their hands. There is a certain skepticism when it comes to algorithmic recommendations on these platforms due to which users are subjected to specific kind of news.

It has been noted that for the younger generations, news is not only centered around politics and international relations but anything that is happening across fields like sports, entertainment, technology, lifestyle is a current affair for them. With lesser reliance on traditional modes of media like newspapers and television, social media is here to stay and now more than ever as the younger generations are even using it for consuming news. The younger generation is more likely to go on an app or site or social media for news rather than the conventional mediums. Not surprisingly, podcasts as sources of information rather than a current affairs bulletin has become more popular among users.

If looked at closely, this transformation is even bigger than the one that happened from paper to digital. The way content consumption and especially news consumption has changed in recent times has become food for thought. The younger generations have made it the primary source for its news consumption and that is a significant development that might raise many eyebrows. What is more astonishing is that influencers and celebrities have become the go-to personalities for young people to consume news from. The only thing that these platforms can do is to ensure provision of legitimate and fact-based information.