I want to spend some time opening up a discussion of whether the use of Facebook as a main source of news is reliable and effective. The Pew Research Center has collected data that states, 62% of Americans are using social media platforms as a source of news and 62% of those users are from Facebook. Meaning, 44% of the total American population get their news from Facebook Alone!
For example, today a friend of mine shared a video on her Facebook account. The video was originally sourced from Occupy Democrats, a facebook page where the owner re-posts an assortment of political news. The video shows an experiment where a white man and a black man are treated differently walking on the street with an AR-15 rifle around their shoulder. As a viewer watching this video, we can easily be provoked by the racial injustices being depicted. However, I do not believe anger is the reaction we necessarily need. I’ll elaborate with this a little later, but for now, take a look at the rest to Occupy Democrats page.
Above, we see the cover image for “Occupy Democrats (OD)”. I was thinking, who is the audience for this Blog? The posts are mostly comprised of video’s, which may appeal more towards a younger audience, specifically university students who may not have a huge amount of time to read lengthy news articles from credible sources. The text says “WE SUPPORT THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT, WE OPPOSE TRUMP, AND WE VOTE!” I found this statement interesting because it promotes the endeavors of OD, while creating an audience that refutes Trump.
What I think is effective through Facebook news(FN) is the global audience. The quick dissemination of information through the Facebook platform allows a wide range of discussion for people with an account. Above is a screenshot I took of one of the comments from the video and the argument catalyzed from it. I do not believe that comments on FN posts represent our current society, but rather a crowd that finds amusement arguing with strangers with opposing thoughts. Returning back to my previous claim that “I do not believe anger is the reaction we necessarily need,” I am referring to discussions that leave viewers feeling obligated to choose a side. If you haven’t realized by now, we can easily become irrational when we get angry.
According to a Forbes article, 10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts, Paul Glader acknowledges that false news has become more available to the public in the new internet age. However, Glade does suggest 10 newspaper suggestions that are worth supporting and relying on for credible news. So, whats the underlying question… let’s start by asking how reading FN differs from reading news from a credible source such as “The New York Times?” According to “Society of Professional Journalists,” a professional journalist has a code of ethics. One of the main differences is a professional journalist needs to “take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible” This is critical for reliability because consequences for the publisher is at stake if the false news is released into the public. Until the publisher can verify their claims it is unlikely for false news to be released.
I am not against FN, but I do encourage its audience to be vigilant of false news all over the internet. Not only that but for people to be keen on learning more about a subject from credible sources and to not depend purely on social media platforms. However, I do encourage those who use social media platforms to keep reading posts and blogs because even credible sources will not have news publication released as fast as Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. Although we are vulnerable to false information sometimes, we need to remain interested in news topics to identify injustices and speak out about them.
Jeffrey Gottfried and Elisa Shearer. 2016. “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016.” Pew Research Center, 26 May. 2017, http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/
Kayla Brantley. 2017. “Shocking social experiment shows police reacting calmly to a white man legally carrying an assault rifle down the street – but they immediately pull their guns to a black man doing the same thing.” Dailymail, 09 October.
Paul Glader. 2017. “10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts.” Forbes, 01 February.
N/A. 2014. “SPJ Code of Ethics.” Society of Professional Journalists, 06 September.