I go to social media for a lot of things, mainly to check up on family, friends, and celebrities that I admire, but I do not trust social media to report factual newsworthy information. I grew up being told over and over again that just because you read something online, doesn’t mean it’s true, so I have stuck with that belief. Social media is meant to grab peoples’ attention and sometimes people will post newsworthy information that is misleading in order to do so.
Social Media and News
I think it’s safe to say that when scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., when seeing a post from someone that includes news-related material, some might believe it to be true. We read articles all the time from online sources, and I think it’s good to be a little skeptical of the information given. Doing additional research, following up, and reading the information from numerous sources gives it credibility, so I think it’s beneficial to do these things.
According to Nieman Lab, there are many factors that determine whether someone will believe in the news posted on social media. Some of these factors include whether ads pop up, the amount of load time, whether it works well on a mobile phone or not, and whether the posts allow people to comment. I can definitely relate to connecting these factors to whether or not I believe what I’m reading, but in actuality, false news is even on the best of sites.
A lot of people are skeptical of the news they receive from social media, as they should be.
News posted on social media can be unreliable and for whatever reason, people may post false information about people or events that may be hurtful and destructive. According to the National Science Foundation, “After both hurricanes Harvey and Irma, false information was spread over social media that immigration status would be checked at evacuation shelters. Rumors like this could affect evacuation decision-making and put both local residents and emergency responders at greater risk. Our research has shown that the general public is not very good at differentiating truth from rumor related to disasters”.
Most times, I view social media the same as I view magazines in a store, aiming to grab peoples’ attention at whatever cost. The information given could be false and could include quotes that are out of context, making the person look bad. The public tends to spread information they hear, and when passed from person to person, the information gets scrambled. Even when information gets debunked, people are likely to keep spreading it and sharing it on their social media sites, creating the illusion that the information is true.
I have relied on social media in the past to provide me with reliable information. However, I have been wrong when discussing specific topics with people because of the information it provided me with. If I see news on Facebook, I have learned that I should check various sources and to not settle unless I know I have developed credibility.