Before the invention of the internet, the world received all of its news from newspapers and televised broadcasts. In this time, those medias controlled how people understood the news because only professional journalists provided the content. These news sources maintain a certain journalistic standard that people find trustworthy. Now people get their news from Facebook.
News from social media has been a growing trend since the advent but, the vast majority of users reading their news from social media, get their news from Facebook. The Pew Research Center reports that 67% of all adults use Facebook. Considering 67% of adult Facebook users report getting their news from Facebook alone, this means 44% of the general population only get their news from Facebook.
An increasing number of adults get their news from Facebook alone
This statistic causes both shock and concern. The problem with almost half of adults receiving their news from Facebook is that this ‘news’ can come from any corner of the internet. These articles people share and post do not always have the rigorous editing and verifying process that traditional news sources have. Bloggers who have no one to answer to for using false facts/statistics or inputting far too much opinion write the majority of articles that go viral on Facebook. These bloggers know this and use it to their advantage. These articles spread their personal agendas, on both sides of the aisle.
Facebook uses algorithms that show users what they are most likely to click on. This puts more and more of the news they currently read on their feed. Say one user always clicks on conservative articles, Facebook will continue to show conservative-leaning news. Same goes for liberals or independents. The real world implications of this are that these groups are reading completely separate narratives. This causes people to view the world news in a completely polarizing way. The real difference that we are seeing is that the world used to read the same stories and make opinions from there. The 44% of American adults now read opinions and decide the news from there.
The takeaway here is that people should vary how they receive their news. Social media alone will not cut it anymore. It simply does not show the full picture. To be truly informed the importance of reading all types of news. The kind you agree with and the kind you do not.