Filipinos consume news through Facebook more than newspapers 

Photo: Pixabay.
Photo: Pixabay.

Facebook continues to dominate the lives of Filipino social media users as it was found to be a top news source second only to television, a study released on Saturday shows.

Published by local pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS), the survey found that 21 percent of adult Filipinos (estimated 13.9 million individuals) use Facebook to read the news every day. This is much higher than the number of Filipinos who consume news through more traditional media like newspapers, which ranked lowest with only 2 percent (around 1 million) of those surveyed saying that they read it daily.

According to the survey, 15 percent (est. 9.7 million) get news from the radio, while a vast majority, 60 percent (est. 40.4 million), said they catch the news on TV.

This means that Facebook is a more popular source of news for Filipinos than radio and newspapers combined.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise as the Philippines has been called the social media capital of the world. A report published by We Are Social in January last year found that those in the Philippines spend the most time on social media compared to other countries.

However, social media has also been criticized as a news source. Facebook, in particular, has been blamed for the proliferation of fake news and has had to enforce major changes to combat this.

This problem is especially serious in the Philippines, where the social media platform was used in the 2016 campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte. In March, Facebook took down about 200 pages, groups, and accounts from its own network and Instagram that were linked to Duterte’s former social media campaign manager for “coordinated, inauthentic behavior.”

Who’s on Facebook?

In the Philippines, the internet is almost synonymous to Facebook.

The recent SWS survey found that 99 percent (est. 30.3 million) of Filipinos who go online have a Facebook account. This is equivalent to 45 percent of the country’s total adult population (est. 30.5 million)

Most of those who read the news on Facebook have higher educational attainment. About half (49 percent) of adult Facebook users who graduated from college read the news on the social media platform daily. The same percentage of high school graduates do the same. In contrast, only 37 percent of Facebook users who are elementary school graduates and 36 percent of non-elementary school graduates read the news on Facebook daily.

Seventy-eight percent (est. 5.9 million) of college graduates have a Facebook account. This is followed by 58 percent (est. 16.9 million) among high school graduates, 32 percent (est. 6.4 million) among elementary school graduates, and 11 percent (est. 11.0 million) among non-elementary school graduates.

No surprises here but the age group with the highest number of Facebook users is the youth, with 86 percent (est. 7.3 million) of 18-24-year-olds with a Facebook account. This is followed by 25-34-year-olds with 71 percent (est. 9.5 million), 35-44-year-olds with 55 percent (est. 7.3 million), 45-54-year-olds with 29 percent (est. 3.6 million), and those 55 years old and above with 14 percent (est. 2.6 million)

Facebook membership is also higher in urban areas compared to provinces. Fifty-six percent (est. 15.3 million) of adults in urban areas have a Facebook account, while only 38 percent of those in rural areas do.

The proportion of adults with Facebook accounts is highest in Metro Manila, with 64 percent (est. 5.8 million). Next is the rest of Luzon Island at 48 percent (est. 14.4 million), Mindanao at 39 percent (est. 5.8 million), and the Visayas at 33 percent (est. 4.2 million).

Other social media platforms

Following Facebook, YouTube is the second most popular social media website for Filipinos, with 38 percent of adult internet users (est. 11.7 million individuals) with YouTube accounts. Next on the ranking is Instagram (15 percent or est. 4.7 million individuals), Twitter (8 percent or est. 2.7 million individuals), and Viber (7 percent est. 2.1 million).

Social media and politics

SWS also found that of the estimated 30.4 million adults who have at least one social media account, 31 percent (9.4 million) use social media to like or promote posts on politics or social issues. Respondents were asked to choose more than one social media activity that they do from a list.

Fourteen percent (est. 4.3 million) follow political figures, 6 percent (est. 1.8 million) post their own thoughts on political or social issues, 5 percent (est. 1.5 million) repost content on politics and social issues, 4 percent (est. 1.2 million) post links to political stories, and 2 percent (est. 537,000) post on social media to encourage others to take action on political and social issues.

Ironically, only 1 percent (est. 365,000) use social media to encourage people to vote.

The SWS survey was conducted from March 28 – 31, 2019 using face-t0-face interviews with 1,440 adults from all over the Philippines.

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