Social media is a more likely source of news for those under 25 than conventional web searches, according to a new report.

The report, by the Reuters Institute – the first from the organisation to examine the impact of digital media on public news access – found that 43 per cent of those in the UK between the ages of 16 and 24 are more inclined to obtain news stories from a site such as Facebook than from a specialist news website or general search engine.

The report also found however that for those in the over-45 age bracket, social media is a far less popular source of news information, with just 11 per cent in this group claiming to obtain their news stories in this way.

For this same over-45 age group, sourcing news via search engines still ranked comparatively highly, with 33 per cent saying they obtained their news stories this way.

In terms of which social media sites are likely to be used most frequently for exchanging news, the survey found that Facebook came out on top, enjoying a 55 per cent share of this activity while Twitter accounted for 23 per cent.

LinkedIn and Google+, meanwhile, were not identified by the survey as frequently used sources of news.

The report also revealed email still plays a significant role in news sharing, with a 33 per cent share – second in popularity to Facebook.

The report found that the most sought-after news stories among UK users were those relating to celebrities, and that technology news was more popular than financial or business news.