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As COVID-19 Emerged in U.S. Facebook Posts About It Appeared in a Wide Range of Public Pages, Groups

“About three-quarters (74%) of public posts about COVID-19 linked to news organizations, while just 1% linked to health and science sites. The COVID-19 outbreak has driven record traffic to news sites as most Americans have sought out information about the virus and its implications for society. Many have turned to social media to follow the developments – and even before the outbreak, about half of all U.S. adults said they get news from Facebook. But where on Facebook are people finding discussions of COVID-19, what sources are users linking to, and how much are people engaging with what they find? A new Pew Research Center analysis finds that in the early days of the outbreak in the United States, coronavirus-related posts that shared links to sources of information appeared in a wide variety of public Facebook spaces (defined in this report as public pages and groups) – mainly spaces where users were already discussing other topics. For instance, about a quarter (24%) of the public spaces studied that mentioned the virus in March 2020 were personal interest and lifestyle spaces, while another one-in-five (19%) were entertainment or sports. The remainder ranged from spaces typically focused on government and politics to religion, business and humor, reflecting the outbreak’s impact in many different contexts…”

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