The stereotype goes that Millennials don’t pay attention to news or politics. However, they do follow it to a certain extent. A new Pew Research study revealed that Facebook is the main political news source for young Americans.
In fact, 61 percent of those surveyed reported getting most of their political and governmental information from the social media platform, making Facebook considerably more popular than CNN (44 percent), local TV (37 percent), and Google News (33 percent).
On the other hand, Baby Boomers, which Pew defines as those born between 1946 and 1964, displayed the opposite news consumption patterns. Around 60 percent of these Americans get their political news from local television, and only 39 percent rely on Facebook. Of course, given Facebook’s newsfeed algorithms, these opposite trends suggest that millennials are actually sharing more political and government-related articles or media links on the platform when compared to older generations.
Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980, also relied primarily on Facebook for their politics at 51 percent usage. But close behind was local news at 46 percent and CNN at 45 percent.
While the three generations surveyed showed some discrepancy in terms of most popular sources, they were generally in agreement when it came to which outlets they trusted the most and the least. The Glenn Beck Program, the Rush Limbaugh Show, the Sean Hannity Show and BuzzFeed are highly suspect — regardless of age — whereas NPR, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, PBS, and CNN (among others) were generally seen as trustworthy news sources.
Despite the frequency with which millennials see political content on their newsfeed, the generation maintains a certain apathy towards the entire subject, with over a quarter of those surveyed choosing politics and government as one of the three least interesting subjects when given a choice of nine. These results seem to mirror the small numbers of millennials who actually voted during the 2014 midterm elections (a paltry 21.3 percent of millennials showed up at the polls).
Still, this high rate of political news reading and sharing on Facebook reinforces the importance of social media in political campaign strategies. For example, the use of social media was revolutionized by the Obama campaign of 2008.
So like it or not, millennials, prepare yourselves for even more political fodder on your newsfeeds, as the race to the White House, 2016 edition, takes off in earnest over the next few months.