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26% of American adults get their news from YouTube

I miss it when YouTube was for cat videos and people doing dumb things.

youtube logo on laptop
Image: Unsplash

Long gone are the days when YouTube was the go-to-website for DIY videos, dancing cats, and pretty much anything in between. A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed something unexpected – around 26% of US adults get their daily dosage of news from YouTube.

That opens two questions: what kind of news is there on YouTube, and who is making that news?

The study found that people get the majority of their news from independent channels. Around 72% of the 12,638 surveyed adults said that they find YouTube a vital news source. Furthermore, they said that they don’t see anything wrong in getting their news from YouTube. At the same time, they expressed their concerns regarding political bias, misinformation, censorship, and YouTube’s demonetization policies.

According to the study, Democrats and those leaning towards that political ideology claim that the biggest problem with YouTube was harassment and misinformation. On the other hand, Republicans and folks leaning towards their ideology find political bias, censorship, and demonetization to be YouTube’s flaws.

Independent YouTube channels vs. official YouTube channels of established news outlets

The study revealed that both independent and news channels affiliated with established media outlets are equally popular. Also, the study suggested that viewers like to switch between the independent and YouTube channels run by established news outlets.

In terms of the content, established news outlets focused on video content that was in line with what they presented on their respective TV channels.

Then there are the independent news channels that seem to be very prone to presenting conspiracy theories and unproven claims. In late 2019, independent YouTube news outlets’ most covered topics were Deep State conspiracy theories, QAnon, anti-vaccine theories, and Jeffrey Epstein related theories.

Of all these topics, QAnon conspiracy theories were by far most commonly mentioned across all independent channels. Almost 9% of all independent news channels on the platform focused solely on QAnon. On the other side, 14% of all independent channels frequently included the QAnon subject in their videos. Simultaneously, news organization channels from established news outlets mentioned QAnon only 2% in their YouTube videos.

In an earlier study, it was brought to light that almost half of US adults had heard at least something about QAnon and the conspiracy theories that surround it.

The study also notes that independent news channels were more prone to produce videos featuring a negative stance toward the given subject. That came as no surprise as negative videos regularly received more views than videos with a positive or neutral tone.

Concerning their political ideology, only 12% of all YouTube news channels clearly stated their political ideology. On the contrary, most of them used partisan terms to describe their political stance and ideology.

What do you think? Surprised that so many people are getting their news from YouTube? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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