The Korea Herald

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[Newsmaker] Facebook or Twitter? Choice reflects young Koreans' politics

By Kim So-hyun

Published : Jan. 31, 2023 - 15:51

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An image of Elon Musk is seen on a smartphone placed on printed Twitter logos in this picture illustration taken April 28, 2022. (Reuters-Yonhap) An image of Elon Musk is seen on a smartphone placed on printed Twitter logos in this picture illustration taken April 28, 2022. (Reuters-Yonhap)

Liberals in their early 20s are more likely to use Twitter, while conservatives in the same age group prefer Facebook, according to a local study released Tuesday.

Two out of 5 South Koreans aged between 19 and 24 are on their smartphones for more than five hours a day, according to an online poll of 2,214 people of this age group conducted in July last year by the state-funded National Youth Policy Institute.

They mostly use YouTube, KakaoTalk, Instagram and Facebook and come across a lot of fake news on social media, the research institute said in its report on young people’s media use and policy study.

According to the survey results, 98.6 percent of respondents had smartphones, and 43.4 percent said they use their smartphones for more than five hours a day.

To a multiple-choice question on average daily smartphone use, 19.2 percent said they used their smartphones between three and four hours; 15.7 percent between two and three hours; and 14.7 percent between four and five hours. Only 7.1 percent said they use their smartphones for less than two hours a day.

YouTube was where they spent the most time, followed by KakaoTalk and other messaging services, social media, music and games.

Only 9.7 percent -- 10.4 percent of men and 8.7 percent of women -- said they installed programs to limit smartphone use or block access to harmful websites.

Eighty-six percent of the respondents said they used social media in the past month, and Instagram was their top choice.

Some 42.5 percent said they were always using Instagram, while 10.8 percent said they were always on Facebook, and 9.6 percent always on Twitter.

TikTok and Kakao Story were the least popular among the five social media platforms mentioned on the survey, with 72.2 percent and 82.5 percent, respectively, saying they don’t use them.

As for Twitter, 42.6 percent of women and 26.4 percent of men said they use it.

By political orientation, 52.5 percent of those who identified themselves as liberals said they used Twitter, compared to 23.8 percent of conservatives.

By specific age, 20-year-olds made up the highest percentage of Twitter users (38.6 percent).

Facebook, on the other hand, was used more by men (54.8 percent) than women (35.7 percent).

Among those who identified themselves as politically conservative, 48.7 percent used Facebook, compared to 46.7 percent of centrists and 41.6 percent of liberals.

The older they were, the more likely they were to use Facebook.

College students made up a lower share of Facebook users (43.1 percent) than non-college students (53 percent).

Instagram was more popular among women with 93.9 percent saying they use it, compared to 88.5 percent of men.

The percentage of Instagram users was similar across different political orientations.

Sixty percent of all respondents said they came across false or fabricated information on social media, while 59 percent said they saw such information on video streaming platforms.

A whopping 47.6 percent said they encountered expressions of hatred online in the past month.

Expressions of hate toward men (77.2 percent) and women (77.5 percent) were most commonly encountered online, followed by those toward homosexuals (68.9 percent); the disabled (58.2 percent), the elderly (51.3 percent) and foreigners (45.7 percent).

The researchers who authored the report said that to help improve the media literacy of this age group, universities should set up a relevant course in their general education curriculum for freshmen. The media should also distribute content to help reduce hate speech and cyber violence, the researchers added.