With all the hot water Facebook has been in for the role of news on its platform, it looks like the social media giant is getting what it wanted.
A new study from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that the use of Facebook for news has declined. Instead, people are turning to messaging apps — most notably WhatsApp — to receive and share news.
The study's data come from surveys conducted by YouGov of representative sample populations in countries around the world.
Researchers found that social media use for news is down 6 percent in the United States, which is almost all due to a decline in the use of Facebook for news. Specifically, the use of Facebook for news on a weekly basis declined 9 percent from 2016 to 2018, and 20 percent amongst "younger groups."
Taking the place of news blasted out to entire social networks is one-to-one sharing or group messaging. News reading and sharing on WhatsApp in particular increased 4 percent from 2016 to 2018.
This research is consistent with both shifting attitudes towards Facebook, as well as broader social media trends.
Facebook received user backlash after the use of the platform for Russian election manipulation and Cambridge Analytica's microtargeted behavioral advertising came to light. In response, Facebook shifted its priorities from news to more personal sharing.
In recent years, the use of messaging apps has also gained on network-based social media. In 2016, the use of messaging surpassed social media platforms. And active daily users of messaging apps have only continued to grow in the intervening years.
But then again, Facebook owns WhatsApp. So it looks like Facebook's domination of the way the world reads, shares, and discusses the news continues.