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New social media nones: how and why Americans have changed their use of social media to consume political news

David S. Morris (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, USA)
Jonathan S. Morris (Department of Political Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 17 August 2023

Issue publication date: 7 November 2023

225

Abstract

Purpose

Social media (SM) platforms have become major sources for generating, sharing and gathering political and election news. Although there appears to be an assumption that reliance on SM for political news consumption will continue to gain in popularity, there are reasons to believe that many Americans are retreating from using SM for political news. The purpose of this study is to examine if Americans are reducing reliance on SM for political news and to analyze why retreat may be happening.

Design/methodology/approach

Using longitudinal panel data from Pew’s American Trends Panel study, the authors tracked 993 respondents from February of 2016 to November of 2019 to monitor their reliance on SM for political news leading up to the 2020 US presidential election.

Findings

The results of this study indicate that a sizeable percentage of people (about a third) are retreating from SM platforms for political news consumption and some are abandoning it altogether – people we refer to as new SM “nones.” The authors find that retreat from SM is associated with increased distrust of the information found on the platforms. Concerns about fake news, incivility on SM and information overload were unrelated to retreat from use of SM for political news consumption.

Originality/value

The findings of this study are novel and suggest that reliance on SM for political news by the public may have waxed, seen its zenith and may now be waning largely because of distrust in the information found on SM platforms.

Keywords

Citation

Morris, D.S. and Morris, J.S. (2023), "New social media nones: how and why Americans have changed their use of social media to consume political news", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 468-484. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-04-2023-0052

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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