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Illustration: Caresse Haaser, Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook and Twitter are declining as news and media referral sources on mobile, according to a report from traffic analytics company Chartbeat, which finds that users are increasingly using search for news as well as migrating to publisher and news aggregation apps.

Why it matters: The increase of social media distribution on smartphones meant that more people generally had access to more news and information than ever before, but a lot of it was unvetted, one-sided or outright false.

Between the lines: Three market forces are pushing news traffic to come from places other than traditional forms of social media...

  1. Facebook's January 2017 decision to begin distributing less news, which is pushing more people to access news traffic from sources directly via search.
  2. A commitment to higher-quality news aggregation services from device manufacturers.
  3. A narrative around fake news on social media that's pushing consumers to look elsewhere for authoritative news and information.

The big picture: Since January 2017, per Chartbeat...

  • Twitter and Facebook have declined in their share of traffic sent to news sites.
  • Facebook traffic to publishers is down so much (nearly 40%) that according to Chartbeat, "a user is now more likely to find your content through your mobile website or app than from Facebook."
  • Google Search on mobile has grown more than 2x, helping guide users to stories on publishers' owned and operated channels.
  • Direct mobile traffic to publishers's websites and apps has also steadily grown by more than 30%.
  • Flipboard has grown 2x in news referrals. It is the default news app on Samsung devices in the United States.
  • Google News (Mobile) has grown 3x since May 2018. It is the default app on "Stock" Android devices globally.
  • Apple News has grown, although it's unclear how much. It is the default news aggregator on iOS with certain products in the U.S., UK and Australia.

The bottom line: At a high-level, it's an example of how new technologies can be partially regulated by market pressure (and threats of democratic government regulation) over time.

Go deeper

Harry and Meghan accuse British royal family of racism

Photo: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via Reuters

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered a devastating indictment of the U.K. royal family in their conservation with Oprah Winfrey: Both said unnamed relatives had expressed concern about what the skin tone of their baby would be. And they accused "the firm" of character assassination and "perpetuating falsehoods."

Why it matters: An institution that thrives on myth now faces harsh reality. The explosive two-hour interview gave an unprecedented, unsparing window into the monarchy: Harry said his father and brother "are trapped," and Markle revealed that the the misery of being a working royal drove her to thoughts of suicide.

Updated 3 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: Thousands rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Demonstrators on March 7 outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murdering George Floyd, will begin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
6 hours ago - Health

Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.

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