With more than 2.5 billion users, social media has become an important source of news. Gone are the days when people would depend on news from their local TV stations or newspapers. At the moment, you need to log into your account and get to know what’s trending. But can you get factual news by consuming social media content? And will these social platforms replace TV news? Well, these are some of the questions that people often ask themselves. Below is an overview of how people consume news on social media and its impact.
The Role of Social Media in News
Are more people using social media for news now more than ever? The truth is more people are now spending time online. On the other hand, the number of TV users is declining. With the development of smartphones, it’s now easier to access news on social media. All it takes is to follow the right accounts.
Social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are the most used for news. Journalism.org’s research indicates that almost 4% of adults in France depend on Facebook for news. Denmark and Italy also have the biggest consumption. Data reports indicate that more than 78% of their population depends on Facebook for news.
A big population in other European countries such as Germany, the UK, Italy, Netherlands, and Sweden depend on Twitter. These are quite big numbers. A deeper analysis indicates that more than 50% of the surveyed group in countries such as France, the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden are familiar with social media and news.
From this data, there is no doubt that social platforms play a huge role in delivering news. Its prominence isn’t slowing down. As internet access increases and becomes cheaper, the way people consume news traditionally is going to change.
How Social Media Has Changed How We Consume News
Even in the era of fake news on various social media platforms, these platforms change how we consume news. Well, you no longer have to wait for a comprehensive overview of news on top of the hour. Besides that, you no longer have to wait for briefings or breaking news in front of your TV or turn on the radio. And if you are always curious about celebrity news and gossip, you will find everything here.
You can scroll or swipe through your account and have all the information you need. In the US, for instance, around 43% of adults get news on Twitter, Facebook. Meanwhile, 21% get it on YouTube, and 12% on Twitter. Recent data from an internet survey indicate that almost 50% of internet users first hear news on social media before they get to hear it on a news station.
The impact of this is that there is a significant decline in the way people read articles. Rather than reading those long articles, a person would rather watch short video clips or read through the headlines. In case the user decides to open an article, they will stay on that page for 15 seconds or less.
We can agree that social media as a news source is something that’s already here. For instance, social media news articles are proving to be more popular than real news articles. This because they are well-summarized and straight to the point.
However, we must consider facts when consuming these huge chunks of information. Remember that there is no control regarding the authenticity of this news since. This is because they are usually shared by different, so we also have false news.
People want to be the first to share breaking news. So, the first tweet without fact-checking. Besides that, the need for retweets and likes is actually getting people on overdrive. Those users want to “blow up” based on how popular their posts are shared.
However, we should know that false information spreads rapidly, far, and deeper. That’s why the effect of false terrorism, political information, and regional attacks, among others, usually reach a wider audience. This is also evident in how gossip flourishes.
Lastly, let’s look at the effects of the consumption of such news. Generally, what you consume from traditional media tends to have a somehow lasting impact. However, Twitter news is usually “Brief” on the mind. That’s why by the next day, you will mostly have forgotten the story.
Why Do People Share News on Social Media?
What’s the motive behind people sharing news on social accounts? Well, society has become like a global village. Every little incident that’s happening in the corner of the world will easily find itself online. The exact reason is to inform others mainly.
Informing others by making them aware of new happenings is the main goal for most people. However, some want to seek status or to socialize. To others, it might be for entertainment.
Is Social Media Replacing the Need for TV News?
The way we spread the news on social platforms has an impact on how we utilize TV. Does this mean that we can fully depend on social media as a news source? It should be noted that the new generation actually consumes less print media.
That’s why you now find renowned news outlets proactively changing the way they share news to get a market share still. TV ads, stock market information, financial news, etc., are decreasing, and people are keen on using social media for marketing news.
A new generation doesn’t know people would wait for TV bulletins to get news. The digital landscape is providing the public with easier and simple access to information more than ever.
The Fall in TV News Consumption
Reports indicate that the consumption of TV news over the last 7 years has continued to decrease steadily. In fact, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Digital Journalism estimates that TV news consumption is decreasing faster than newspaper readership.
The TV viewing figures in the US have been reducing by around 3.5% annually since 2012. In the UK, the hours of TV consumption in 2014 went down by 10.8 hours for all adults. However, for people between 16 to 25 years, the numbers were quite dramatic. They reduced by 25 hours.
These numbers highlight the same patterns in other parts of the world. The same declining factor can be seen in the US, Germany, and France. But do you know what’s strange? That the number of people using audio-visual sites is increasing. For instance, more people are now consuming visual content from YouTube.
The Impact of Smartphone
We can’t ignore the fact that smartphones have been crucial in driving the numbers. More than 50% of social media users use smartphones. In a 2016 study, the figures indicate that almost 48% of social media users used smartphones to access news sites and applications at 23%.
Using smartphones to access social media news articles comes with significant convenience. You can literally use it anywhere, from your kitchen counter, bathroom, in traffic, to bedroom. Additionally, these devices are pocket-friendly. So, it makes it easier to store and carry them around.
We can confidently say that social media news has replaced (to some extent) TV news. We don’t know if this platform will lead to the complete demise of traditional TV news consumption. Even so, the viewership continues to decline, especially among young people.
On the other hand, it’s not like social media users do extensive research regarding the news. So, traditional media houses that publish news still have some shares and can get noticeable web traffic.
How to Stop the Spread of Fake News on Social Media
There are so many instances where social media users have come across fake news. Misinformation and disinformation both mean incorrect information. This is not something that we can fully eliminate. However, it’s still important to control the spread of fake news.
There should be a joint effort between social media users/ organizations and the company. First, users can report any information they think it’s not factual. Organizations should strive to post verifiable information. On the other hand, the government should hold those who and how is fake News Spread accountable. This way, users will at least consume “clean” content.
Is Social Media a Good Source for News?
Social media is a good source of news. If you want to know the latest news and trends, this is the place where you are likely to find updates. However, be careful with what you are consuming. Always follow credible news sources. In case there is something new, verify by checking multiple sources.
The Bottom Line
Social media has a major impact on the way we consume news. You don’t have to wait for breaking news on telly with your smartphone or desktop. You can log into your account and get an overview of the latest news. However, make sure that you exercise caution since fake news is also a thing.