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pewfacebookWhile nearly one-third of Americans find news via Facebook, they aren’t necessarily going to the social media hub searching for the latest headlines.

Pew Research Center published a study that polled 5,173 adults on their news consumption habits on Facebook. Almost half — 47 percent — of adult Facebook users consume news on Facebook, which means about 30 percent of the U.S. population does so (64 percent of adults have Facebook accounts).

But of that 30 percent, finding news on the social network is more incidental than anything. Only 22 percent of that group say Facebook is a useful way to get news, while the majority are on the website for other reasons — looking at photos, status updates, etc. — and news just happens to be there.

However, Pew found that for the users who follow news less often overall, Facebook becomes more important of a news source.

“If it wasn’t for Facebook news, I’d probably never really know what’s going on in the world because I don’t have time to keep up with the news on a bunch of different locations,” one respondent said.

facebookIn terms of what topics Facebook users are looking for, entertainment news is the most popular, followed by community news, sports, national politics and government.

When it comes to breaking news, only 28 percent of Facebook news consumers say they use Facebook for breaking news. It seems Twitter still dominates this space.

One more tidbit: Facebook users don’t really care about media brands when it comes to clicking on news links in their feed. Only 20 percent say they read stories based on a news organization, while 70 percent click because they’re simply interested in the topic. 

On Monday, Facebook said that it was driving 170 percent more referrals to media sites than in 2012.

You can read the full report here. This is the first analysis in a series of studies conducted by Pew that looks at the connections between social media and news consumption.

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