Social media has emerged at an exponential rate as young people`s main source of news as it has been helpful in providing them richer dimensions of current affairs. Although, there are concerns and insecurities regarding the use of social media as an origin of news; however, its use has proved its superiority over other conventional sources. The inclination towards the use of social media in young people possibly suggests that people, nowadays, get news through social media sites as a report, from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, states that more than half of the people they interviewed admitted that social media had become a major source of news for them (Newman).
Perhaps, the drift towards social media is also because it offers diverse sources of news. It is a quicker way for getting news as compared to other news sources as most people use social media applications on their cell phones because both of these are instantly accessible. The ease of accessibility is worthy of attention as well. Many newspapers and other news sources use it to catch audience so that they can increase their ratings. Teenagers depict a trend of increased activities on social media and are more influenced by the content on it; therefore something which gets popular among social media users also succeeds practically. However, social media may also introduce prejudice into its audience.
Social media has been incorporated in our lives and it has become an important chapter. The number of people, who use social media as a fountainhead of news, is multiplying. According to a research carried out by Pew Research Centre, 62% of the American population gets news through social media which is 13% more than a similar research carried out in 2012. About 70% of the Reddit and 66% of the Facebook users use these respective sites as their main news source. These figures likely show that a major percentage of social media users have shifted to social media from other accustomed sources. Social media is globally accessible. Its remoteness allows its users to remain updated wherever they are. However, the long-established sources offer more obstacles in their usage as compared to social media.
Facebook, with its 1.86 billion users by the end of 2016 as compared to 1.59 billion the previous year, is becoming increasingly popular and plays a major contribution as a social media site used for finding, reading and sharing news. Mark Zuckerberg, a co-founder of Facebook, in a Q&A session at Facebook’s headquarter in 2013 says that the News Feed, a feature of Facebook which provides a user updates from user’s social circle, will soon turn into a personalized newspaper (Kim). The personalization of News Feed is helpful for a user in getting updates from the sources they like. Zuckerberg, along with a team of engineers, is working on organizing user behavior into simplified patterns and trying to pick up signals that will allow Facebook to provide its users with content they are interested in. These initiatives make social media tread the path towards its use as a source of news and enhance user`s experience.
The use of social media helps its users to remain updated time by time whereas other sources have constraints. Other factors which compel an individual to use social media for getting news include journalism itself. Although, the use of social media by journalists is not even throughout the globe; however, there is a significant hike in the number shown by journalists in using social media. Social sites are a medium through which journalists voice their diligent work on a bigger platform and reach bigger audience. It is comparatively easier to reach out to people through social media than any other medium.
Their work gets acknowledged. The users of social media happen to interact, individually, with journalists who are eye-witnesses of the incidents they report. Reaching out to a variety also compels them. A report from Indiana University School of Journalism states that 40% of the journalists admitted that the use of social media is crucial for their work. It also states that one third of the journalists use social media every day for about 30 to 60 minutes. From the past experiences of the journalists, it can be witnessed that they used conventional sources; however, in present times, they prioritize social media.
The living standards of life have ameliorated too much and as a consequence, the desires of people have gone sky-high. In order to achieve those desires, complexities arise which require individuals to strive more. People have become busier and therefore, seem rushed. They have to invest in more struggles to accomplish their tasks now. All the circumstances led people into a frenetic circle of life which compelled them into multitasking. The patience has decreased and no one wishes to watch television which needs it very much. They do not want to waste their time waiting for news. They do not want any constraint. Then comes the social media, to which everyone has an instant access and it is user friendly besides its being quickly approachable.
Instead of going and switching on a television which is a slower process, an individual finds it more convenient to use social media on their cell phone which on one hand fulfills their need of getting news and on the other hand, keeps them updated in their social circle. The use of television is going down. According to an article published by Business Insider in 2015, the overall viewing of television for the people of age group from 18 to 34 was down by 18% as compared to that of previous year`s same time span. This may suggest that the decline in the viewership of television is a reason behind people’s use of social media for getting news. They feel relieved in using social media which decreases their efforts.
Although, some of you would argue that despite a massive change in the medium of news, a user, of the present times, may fall victim to fictitious news on social media which may result in disastrous consequences. Someone who falls a prey to fake news develops biases. However, the advantages and disadvantages of the use of social media as a source of news are debatable. According to news reported by journalism.org in December 2016, a man brought a gun to a restaurant just because he got false news from the social media that a child prostitution ring was being run under the control of the administration of the restaurant. A survey conducted by Pew Research Centre states that about two-thirds (64%) of the Americans are left in ambiguity about news. The major issue is “Are the advantages of social media as a news source worthy enough to take a plunge against the sovereignty of its users?”
The problem can be resolved by studying user behavior, a part of which includes that users, on their own, follow and subscribe to credible sources. Most of the social media users primarily maneuver Reddit and Facebook for news and the possibility of falling a prey to fake news can be minimized by following authentic and genuine pages and accounts. Victimization can be prevented by critically and analytically evaluating the news one gets through social media. Verification of the news, people get through social media, from other credible sources can also prove helpful. The part which social media sites can play is that they can recruit human editors for approving original and legit news. Users of social media sites may also help the administration by reporting against news if they find it to be faulty and thus the social media experience for its users, in aggregate, can be enhanced.
The dominance of the social media over the other sources of news can be clearly witnessed by the drift shown by people. Social media provides its users with huge amounts of content which is easily accessible to them and thus it is more efficient than other sources of news. In the present era, where almost everyone is getting into the whirl of social media, it may be of immense importance to transform a single platform into something from which everyone gets benefits.
The increasing trend of using social media as a news source clearly indicates that people prefer social media sites as compared to accessing news websites specifically for getting news. The decrease in the sales of television sets, due to its less usefulness, has possibly compelled people to grow out of the bubble they are confined in and explore other horizons. Journalists probably deem the spreading of their reports on the social media as a step to gain fame and prosper. Nonetheless, social media is catering the needs of its users in the fields of news as well.
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Jeffrey Gottfried, Elisa Shearer. “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016.” Pew Research Centre, May. 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.
Eugene Kim. “Mark Zuckerberg Wants To Build The ‘Perfect Personalized Newspaper’ For Every Person In The World.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 06 Nov. 2014. Web.18 Mar.2017.
Lars Willnat, David H. Weaver. “Social Media Change News Gathering.” THE AMERICAN JOURNALIST IN THE DIGITAL AGE: KEY FINDINGS (2014): pag. 20. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.
Myles Udland. “The Number of People Watching TV Is Falling off a Cliff.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 23 Sept. 2015. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.
Michael Barthel, Amy Mitchell, Jesse Holcomb. “Many Americans Believe Fake News Is Sowing Confusion.” Pew Research Center: Journalism and Media. Pew Research Center, 15 Dec. 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.
Feature Image Credits: Annie Spratt