Grid/Harris Poll: Few US adults actually use Twitter and TikTok

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Twitter and TikTok get all the attention. Polling shows few US adults use them.

Elon Musk bought Twitter and immediately plunged it into chaos. Mark Zuckerberg pivoted Facebook to the metaverse, but it’s not clear that users are ready to follow him. TikTok has surged in popularity, but some U.S. lawmakers see it as one of the greatest security threats out there because the company is based in China.

Social media has changed in many ways over the last 10 years. An exclusive poll from Grid and Harris quantifies the generation gap among which sites users prefer and documents growing concerns around misinformation.

Overall, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are leading the pack, the survey shows. Three-quarters of U.S. adults have used Facebook in the last six months, with 71 percent using YouTube and 51 percent using Instagram. Just 34 percent reported using Twitter or TikTok.

Those sites also are the most trusted, with 75 percent viewing Facebook as trustworthy and 62 percent trusting YouTube and Twitter, found the poll of 1,035 Americans 18 and older conducted between Nov. 1-14.

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But those figures obscure differences in how Generation Z interacts with social media. For these Americans, YouTube is king (83 percent), followed by Instagram (74 percent) and TikTok (64 percent).

This younger group is also more likely to see TikTok as more trustworthy (65 percent, compared to 50 percent of Gen Xers and 26 percent of Boomers) than are other groups. The same goes for Twitter (64 percent viewing the platform as trustworthy compared to 52 percent of Gen Xers and 29 percent of Boomers).

Tracking power users

While TikTok has exploded in popularity, and reports of Facebook’s declining popularity (and profitability) abound, 44 percent of survey respondents who have used social media in the last six months said they used Facebook the most.

By contrast, just 8 percent said they used TikTok most often — and 4 percent said they used Twitter most often, according to the poll. This doesn’t bode well for Musk’s recent $44 billion purchase of Twitter; the billionaire has already laid off thousands of employees and contractors to cut costs amid an advertiser exodus.

Another key finding from the poll is that many social media users struggle to separate fact from fiction when viewing posts on these platforms.

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More than half the people who have used social media in the last six months said they find it difficult to tell the difference between truthful and misleading information on various platforms — but they largely believe that misinformation is spread by fake accounts rather than real ones.

Thanks to Alicia Benjamin for copy editing this article.

  • Benjamin Powers
    Benjamin Powers

    Technology Reporter

    Benjamin Powers is a technology reporter for Grid where he explores the interconnection of technology and privacy within major stories.