TikTok is becoming the resource where a growing number of Americans—particularly young Americans—are getting their news, according to new analyses from the Pew Research Center.
The report, which explored the different ways in which Americans get their news, found that the share of U.S. adults who now say they regularly get their news from TikTok has more than quadrupled in the last three years, from 3 percent in 2020 to 14 percent in 2023.
Americans under 30 are by far the largest consumers of news on the wildly popular short-form video platform. About a third (32 percent) of U.S. adults between the ages of 18-29 now get their news regularly from TikTok, according to the report, compared to about a quarter (26 percent) last year, 18 percent in 2021 and only 9 percent in 2020.
The only other demographic that comes close is Americans between the ages of 30-49, where only 15 percent said they regularly get their news from the app, less than half the 18-29 cohort.
|Percentage of U.S. adults who regularly get their news from TikTok|
Another clear indication of TikTok’s rapid rise as a news platform can be found in the growing percentage of the site’s users who now regularly get their news there. According to the report, the share of TikTok users who regularly turn to the platform for news has nearly doubled since 2020, from 22 percent in 2020 to 43 percent in 2023.
The report comes the same week that media outlets reported on a series of TikTok influencers who had posted viral videos on their apparent admiration for Osama bin Laden’s 2002 “Letter to America,” in which the al Qaeda leader attempted to justify the killing of nearly 3,000 American civilians on September 11, 2001.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates blasted the creators of these videos, calling the bin Laden’s words “repugnant, evil and antisemitic lies” and referring to the TikTok videos as “conspiracy theories” and an ‘insult” to the 9/11 victims.
TikTok has said it will erase all mentions of the letter across its platform.
TikTok growth bucks digital news trend
It goes without saying that some social sites serve as better news platforms than others. But TikTok’s emergence as a news platform effectively bucks a trend that’s seen news consumption fall among social media sites in recent years. Six of the 11 platforms analyzed in the Pew study have witnessed a decrease in news consumption in the last three years, but TikTok's growth now has that site tying with Facebook for second place among the share of those sites’ users (43 percent) for whom those sites double as news platforms. X (Twitter) remains the site with the highest percentage (53 percent) of users who say they regularly get their news there. After Facebook and TikTok (both 43 percent), Reddit comes in third place (38 percent), followed by Instagram (34 percent), YouTube (32 percent), Nextdoor (28 percent), LinkedIn (17 percent), Twitch (17 percent), Snapchat (15 percent) and WhatsApp (12 percent).
The report, which polled Americans on their news-consumption habits—including social media, websites, TV, radio and podcasts—found that half of Americans overall now get their news from social media sites at least sometimes. Facebook and YouTube remain the sites where the largest overall shares of Americans said they regularly get their news (30 percent and 26 percent, respectively).
Digital now far outweighs traditional mediums for news consumption: Americans are almost twice as likely to say they prefer getting their news from digital devices (58 percent) than from TV (27 percent). Americans’ preferred digital news sources are websites or apps (25 percent), followed by search engines (15 percent), social media (12 percent) and podcasts (six percent).
Pew’s findings were based on a survey of more than 8,800 U.S. adults and was conducted from Sept. 25 to Oct 1. Respondents were drawn from the nonpartisan think tank’s American Trends Panel, a nationally representative list of randomly selected U.S. adults.