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Photo Illustration: Chesnot/Getty Images

Messaging apps are becoming more popular than Facebook for sharing and consuming news, according to the 2018 Reuters Digital News Report.

Why it matters: In countries where political free speech is limited or threatened, encrypted messaging has become an attractive way for users to communicate about news and information. And for users that feel social networks that have become too polarizing or crowded, one-to-one messaging is attractive.

  • Facebook is the worldwide leader in messaging, owning the world’s two-biggest mobile messaging apps: WhatsApp and Messenger.
  • But, Chinese companies like WeChat and QQ also have amassed large chat followings.
Expand chart
Data: Media reports; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The use of messaging apps for news is exploding, particularly in countries like Malaysia and Turkey, where stating political views on more open networks can be dangerous, according to the report.

  • The study, which is based on a YouGov online survey conducted with 74,000 people in 37 countries, also finds that a trust gap between users and algorithmically-driven social media platforms — particularly Facebook — has also driven users to find new platforms to communicate about news.
  • Among younger users, the study finds a rise in the use of messaging apps like Whatsapp and Snapchat for news.

The use of messaging for business is also driving adoption. Messaging has become a primary B2B (business-to business) communications tool for brands that are wishing to engage consumers on a more personal level.

  • Chatbots in particular, have become a huge part of the customer service opportunity within messaging for brands. Originally, Chinese messaging companies like WeChat, were the first to introduce messaging chatbots into their products to facilitate better customer service. Now Western companies are investing in the trend.
  • Facebook acquired Ozlo, a chatbot company to boost its artificial intelligence conversational efforts for Messenger in 2017. Twitter debuted a "Direct Message Card" last year to help brands using Twitter Direct Message to speak to customers directly using chatbots.

The bigger picture: The concept of speaking to your entire friend network at once via social networks helped propel the popularity of sites like Facebook. Now the pendulum is swinging away from speaking to hundreds of people at once, back toward one-to-one communication that people feel is more private, secure and authentic.

Go deeper: How Snapchat is separating social from media

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.