Social media may prove to be more crucial to the 2016 presidential race than past election cycles as voters increasingly rely on various networking platforms to keep informed. A new study released Tuesday reveals that the majority of Facebook and Twitter users consume their news on those sites. The report, which was conducted by the Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, found that 63 percent of users on each of the social media platforms visit the site for news updates. These numbers are on the rise from 2013, when 52 percent of Twitter users and 47 percent of Facebook users reported finding their news on the sites. The increase was seen across all age groups. “There are many elements that can be at play with users of Facebook and Twitter when they are on these platforms,” said Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research at the Pew Research Center. “It may be that they are on the platform and news ends up being something they do or the degree to which both Facebook and Twitter have put increased emphasis on news engagement and accessibility.”
Politics was the most prevalent of all the news subjects that users reported they came across on social media and a growing roster of 2016 candidates are paying attention to the shift in how people consume news. Many have wasted no time this election season establishing a social media presence.
Instead of appearing on a podium to announce their candidacy, some presidential hopefuls have turned to digital platforms. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took to Twitter on Monday to declare “I’m in,” and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted a video kickoff to launch his run for the presidency in March. In April, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton released a two-minute YouTube video “Getting Started” to share the news of her presidential run.