Essay #1

Nowadays, social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and so on, are consumed daily as sources of news. Not only do legitimate sources such as BBC, CNN and such share their news on these platforms rapidly, yet there are numerous other pages and accounts which share news with no factual evidence, making it the “age of fake news” (Martin, 2018).

As Forbes magazine suggests, social media platforms have become the number one source of news to most people. Furthermore, studies show that over 54% of Americans get their news from Social media platforms. (Grieco, 2020) Even though getting the news through these channels makes it much easier and quicker for the audience, they should also be aware of the fact that many people who share the news on these platforms, don’t even bother verifying the details and assuring of the facts. Thus, getting news from social media platforms has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Many people believe that the main issue with the increasingly common experience of getting their daily news from social media, is the fact that many of this news may be “False news”. I, as an individual who is a part of the social media world and gets his news mainly from these platforms have a distinct opinion. I too believe that encountering these misleading and false news is a huge issue, however I presume that the ‘influences’ of these news are of much greater concern. For instance, I believe that many young adults including myself, would not be following the news, perhaps at all, if they had to do it the traditional way and sit for hours by the TV for the news to go on. Not only would this be a waste of time for many individuals, but it wouldn’t also be as effective for everyone since they would have to follow every single news on the daily whether they’re interested in the subject. However, in today’s world, every single news we see on our social media platforms are basically tailored to what we “want” to see, and they are programmed in a way to find their right audience. Therefore, the “influence game” comes to play here. When I go on my social media and follow certain people and pages, I am then influenced by the data and the news they feed me whether they’re factual or not. On the other hand, if I’m interested in a topic such as baseball, football and so on, not only can I follow the main sources of them, but I can also be influenced by the news that other related pages post on their feed no matter they are true or not.

So, when talking about the influences these real or fake news may have on the people who read them, its apparent that when shared by your favourite page, person, celebrity or etc., you will be influenced by these claimed news. For instance, Elon Musk, perhaps the most influential person in the world today, recently started posting on his twitter account about dogecoin and how it’ll be the future currency of earth. Even though he too mentioned it was initially meant as a joke, since the news was spread that Elon Musk was talking about it, people were heavily influenced, and the price of this crypto currency skyrocketed over 1500% within the first day of his tweets. These were then followed by many people following Elon Musk and waiting for him to online to announce something so they could follow his lead. This is an example of how easily people believe in their role models and how invested they are in their rather opinions, than factual news.

On the other hand, social media has had huge impacts on Journalism and news media organizations. Before the social media era, people would rely on news as they were shared on national TV, radio and newspapers. However, in today’s world, there is technically no need of actual certification to be a journalist online as you can publish news on your personal blog, Instagram or other social media platforms with no issue. Additionally, with just the right type of marketing, you can also attain a huge “fan base” for your tribune and find the right audience to influence in the way you desire.

Additionally, research shows that nowadays less people rely on news attained from social media than face-to-face discussions when it comes to political news. (Smith, Silver, Johnson, & Jiang, 2020) After the US elections in 2016, many Americans realized that they were fed lies and false news by Donald Trump before the election took place. Basically, Donald Trump decided to use programmatic advertising in order to feed the poor with false news about how his plan is only targeting their unique issue. For instance, he targeted fishermen and only showed them advertisements or shall we say “fake news” of how his plan is only to make life easier for fishermen. He then targeted another group and so on, and by doing this and spreading fake news, he got people to vote for him. After 2016 however, many people found out about the impacts and influences of these fake news and how easily they can be spread through social media platforms just to find their right audience and eventually, many people decided to get their so known “political news” from more valid sources. However, we should realize that this is not only in politics and spreading fake news even if so small, can be harmful to some people.

Along with fake news on these platforms however, we have been facing another issue with news on social media as well. Surveys have shown that people mostly rely on headlines today and this can create huge issues in terms of news sharing. Research finds that the average person spends 15 seconds or less on reading articles online and their average time spent on such videos is about 10 seconds. (Martin, 2018)

Journalists, newspapers and so forth, always make their headlines bold and use words to catch the attention of their audience. The issue arises when these news are shared on places such as Instagram or Facebook. These pages are trying to make money along with sharing news, so they just post a bold picture with a striking and eye-catching headline and invite you to click on the link below, or to find the link to the news in their bio and other tricks. Furthermore, we tend to choose the easy way of reading the headline and making the facts in our own head just by reading a 5–10-word sentence and this creates even more and more basis for fake news being “spread” on social media platforms.

All in all, as a tiny part of this huge community of social media users who also get their news through these platforms, I believe that the potentials of news sharing have been abused by some people and it’s ruining the beauty, comfort and easement of accessing these news through these channels at any time.

-Arshia Esmaeili

-February 19/2021

References:

Askew, L. (2018, July 14). Social media as a news source – reliability of news on social media. Retrieved February 17, 2021, from https://miappi.com/reliability-of-social-media-news-source/?cn-reloaded=1

Grieco, E. (2020, August 27). Americans are wary of the role social media sites play in delivering the news. Retrieved February 17, 2021, from https://www.journalism.org/2019/10/02/americans-are-wary-of-the-role-social-media-sites-play-in-delivering-the-news/

Harper, R. (2010, March 01). The social media revolution: Exploring the impact on journalism and news media organizations. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/202/the-social-media-revolution-exploring-the-impact-on-journalism-and-news-media-organizations

Martin, N. (2018, November 30). How social media has changed how we consume news. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicolemartin1/2018/11/30/how-social-media-has-changed-how-we-consume-news/?sh=17699e7c3c3c

Smith, A., Silver, L., Johnson, C., & Jiang, J. (2020, May 30). People say they regularly see false and misleading content on social media – but also new ideas. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2019/05/13/users-say-they-regularly-encounter-false-and-misleading-content-on-social-media-but-also-new-ideas/