Pew study shows growing influence of social networks

By ANDRES CORREA

This has officially become the generation of social networking.

Just recently, Facebook hit the one billion member mark. Everybody around us is somehow connected through social networks. Now a Pew study has shown that the amount of people regularly getting their news from social networks has gone up from 7 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2012.

According to the study, growth in the use of search engines like Bing and Google to access news has leveled off due to the increase in the use of social networks and mobile devices. No other online source, including blogs and e-mail, has played a larger role in the decline of search engine growth as have social networks.

There are two reasons for the surge in the amount of people accessing news through social networks. First, more people are becoming regular users of social networks. However, a larger second reason for this trend is that the amount of social network users who see headlines on social network sites has gone up from 16 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2012.

Journalists should be looking at social networks as a way to get in touch with young people. The 18-39 year-old age group is driving the social network news trend. More than one-third in that age group are finding headlines online as social network users.

At this point it is common knowledge that if Facebook were a country, only China and India would boast larger populations. Social networks are connecting the world and the amount of users continues to grow every day. The recent Pew study paints a clear picture of the future.

If a headline is not posted on Facebook or does not show up on a Twitter newsfeed, it may be rendered obsolete. Very soon, not only newspapers, but television news will be forced to compete greatly with online sources including social networks.

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