Social media has changed the way we consume news, as well as how we communicate and influence the content that is published. It allows consumers to be a part of the conversation, and gives journalists tools that they never had before to report and share news.
It has also allowed us to access news in real time, for example when a major event happens, and it has allowed journalists to track trends as they unfold. It has also made it possible to identify patterns and predict future events based on conversations.
However, social media can be a source of confusion and distrust, especially when people are exposed to false stories that have incorrect information. These types of stories are referred to as “fake news” and can be damaging to people’s perception of the news.
There is a need for new research on the way that social media affects news consumption and distribution (Karlsen 2015). This research must include the role of opinion leaders and interpersonal networks in the flow of information and news.
Using a combination of survey data and group interviews, the study explores how young people use their social network sites (SNSs) to gather news. It also considers the effect of incidental news consumption and the role of opinion leaders in this process, as well as their attitude towards these factors.
The survey results reveal that the main factor explaining how young people consume news on their SNSs is the habit of using these sites. About seven-in-ten (18- to 29-year-olds) get their news on these sites everyday, compared with only 38% of those aged 30 to 49 and 17% of those aged 50 and older.
Another important factor is that young people are more avid users of their SNSs than older generations. Roughly half of young people surveyed in France say they use social media to stay updated on news, and one-in-ten social media news consumers cite Facebook as their most often used site for getting this information.
On the other hand, most of those surveyed in France say that the news they get on these sites rarely or only sometimes aligns with their own political views. This reflects the so-called “echo chamber” effect, where different groups of people hear varying points of view on their social media feeds, which are then shared with others in their circles.
This is a serious concern for the quality of journalism and its audience. The ferociously fast spread of information over social media can lead to panic if it is reported in the wrong manner, or when false stories are circulated.
During the past decade, reporters have had to adapt to a plethora of new developments in social media and networking. This has been a challenge for many, but it is one that they must continue to overcome in order to maintain their job security and keep audiences satisfied.