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Young adults in UK rely on social media to get news, regulator finds -Dlight News

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According to a report by a UK media watchdog, nearly two-thirds of young adults use social media on their mobile phones to access news, raising questions about trust and attention to information provided by leading online sources.

An Ofcom report on news consumption in the UK, published on Thursday, highlights the importance of social media sites such as TikTok and Snap as gateways to news, with a third of 16- to 24-year-olds visiting news websites via social media, and less than a tenth going directly to a traditional news site.

The regulator found that the age group has a weak relationship with traditional media, with less than half watching TV channels for their news and only a sixth reading print newspapers. Instead they were drawn to “soft news on social media,” dominated by celebrities, sports and music, with 63 percent accessing it on mobile phones.

Ofcom said the findings suggest that young people have less of a direct relationship with established news brands. These have clearer editorial control and direction than sites that aggregate news sources or position commentary alongside facts.

In a sign of the national broadcaster’s continued strength, BBC One was the only traditional media source to make the top-five news sources used by the 16-to-24 age group. Instagram was the most used news source, followed by the BBC, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.

The study found that among young children aged 12 to 15, TikTok was the single most used source of news across all platforms, followed by YouTube. By comparison, only 16 percent of those over 75 used social media to get news.

Douglas McCabe, media analyst at Anders, said the rise of social media as a dominant news source has raised questions about the trust and credibility of information.

“Hierarchy and curation of searchable content is not designed by news and information media, but by different criteria,” he said. “This reduces the impact and influence of news brands that invest in expensive journalism, with clear implications for the economics of media and democracy.”

The Ofcom report, which was based on 4,556 online and face-to-face interviews, also found that a long-term decline in print newspapers has stabilized, with more than a quarter of adults reading their news in print, up slightly from last year. This rises to close to 40 percent when newspapers’ online platforms are included.

BBC One is the most popular single news source across all platforms, used by 49 per cent of all UK adults, followed by ITV, which consumes around a third. But both channels have seen a gradual decline in users over the past five years.

In contrast, TikTok is growing in popularity as a news source, overtaking BBC Radio 1 and Channel 5 for the first time. One in 10 adults now use it to keep up with the latest stories.

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