Social Media is the No. 1 News Source

In the era or “fake news”, we no longer have to wait for the morning newsto break stories or for the latest issue of the hottest celebrity magazine to be released to get all the gossip. We have every bit of information we need in our pickets with most people getting their information from their favourite social media app.

Social media has become our main news source with an estimated 2.77 bn users in 2019, close to 64.5 per cent being exposed to breaking news from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, as opposed to traditional media.

Social first, news later

One survey revealed that half of all Internet users find out about the latest news from social media before they hear it again on a news channel. Many see the stories break on their social feed before visiting news websites to find out more. The survey revealed a 57 per cent traffic increase to news sites linked from social media.

However, one number that has gone down is how much of an article is being read. Mostsimply scroll down their newsfeed and come across a relevant piece of news but restrict their consumption to a short clip of a video, or even just the headlines. Average visitors read an article for no more than 15 seconds, with the average watch time of a video being just 10 seconds.

Friends as editors

The problem is that social media platforms dictate the information and news we’re exposed to. Our social connections have become editors to what we can see. Before an item becomes viewable in our feed, it needs to have received multiple likes and shares.

Further, there are numerous fake news websites competing with ridiculous stories and clickbait headlines that have a habit of being shared more often due to a lack of fact checking or failing to read beyond the headline. As a result, authentic stories have become a harder find. Fake news, in fact, has a higher chance of being shared than the truth.

Paying to be seen

Sensational and timely news appears to be having a larger impact, such as sites like Buzzfeed with its over 16.9 mn subscribers. As content is required to be liked and shared so many times, it’s overly exaggerated for social. Brands can simply increase what they’re willing to pay in more to appear in news feeds and be seen. While syndication has been around for a while, it applies even more so in social media with the huge amount of information available simultaneously and around the clock.

News happens so fast these days. One story that’s fresh today could be completely forgotten about tomorrow. It’s so easy to miss something now due to the speed at which stories are being turned around and shared. While there’s a definite advantage to having so much news available to us, it’s worth taking the time to verify sources and avoid taking the headlines as gospel. With social medias managing our news, we have a responsibility to check the facts for ourselves.