Facebook dominates in US rush to social networking

A person holds a magnifying glass over a computer screen displaying Twitter logos, in this picture illustration.

The surge into social networks is gaining pace among Americans, with Facebook dominating but with many people using multiple platforms, a study showed Monday.

A Pew Research Center survey found 73 per cent of Americans over age 18 on the Internet use at least one social network -- or about 63 per cent of the total adult population.

Facebook is the preferred network, used by 71 per cent of online adults, or 57 per cent of all American adults, according to Pew researchers.

However other platforms like Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter are making gains, and a growing number of people are using multiple social networks.

Pew found that 42 per cent of Internet users (or 34 per cent of all American adults) use two or more of the five most popular social networks.

Use of Facebook rose to 71 per cent of online adults from 67 per cent a year ago, the study found.

A large part of the growth for Facebook came from older Americans: Roughly 45 per cent of Internet users over 65 are using Facebook, up from 35 per cent in late 2012.

Four other social networks, including Facebook-owned Instagram, are battling for the number two spot for US users.

LinkedIn is used by 22 per cent of online American adults and is especially popular among college graduates and those in higher income households. That is up from 20 per cent a year earlier.

Pinterest usage grew sharply to 21 per cent of online adults, from 15 per cent a year ago. Pew said that women are four times as likely as men to be users of the bulletin-board style social media platform.

Some 18 per cent of online adults use Twitter, up from 16 per cent a year ago, Pew said, with adoption levels particularly high among younger adults and African-Americans.

Instagram use rose to 17 per cent of online adults from 13 per cent a year ago, according to the survey. Much of this growth came in the 18 to 29 age bracket and among African-Americans.

Pew found that Facebook and Instagram drew high levels of "user engagement," with a majority of users checking in on a daily basis.

Some 63 per cent of Facebook users visit the site at least once a day, and 40 per cent do so multiple times throughout the day.

That compares with 57 per cent of Instagram users who visit the site at least once a day and 46 per cent of Twitter users.

The researchers also found considerable overlap among the leading social networks. For example, 93 per cent of Instagram users also use Facebook, as do 83 per cent of LinkedIn members.

Some 53 per cent of Twitter users also use Instagram, and 53 per cent of Instagram users use Twitter, the survey found.

The report is based on telephone interviews conducted from August 7 to September 16 among 1,801 adults age 18 and older. For the total group, the margin of error is estimated at 2.6 percentage points and 2.9 points for Internet users.