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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

2 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.

The week markets went wild

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio

The markets just closed out a manic week.

Why it matters: Outsized — and in some cases historic — moves were evident across the board.