Social media is a two headed beast. On one
hand head, you have an amazing platform where you can connect with friends and family. That’s at least what Facebook wants you to think with their latest commercial.
Then on the other hand, it can be used to manipulate the masses. It’s not Facebook’s fault though. People have relied on the internet to receive their news for a bit, but it seems like a lot of people don’t fact check themselves.
I know I see it a lot on my Facebook feed. People only share things that they agree with whether it’s correct or incorrect. Notice how I don’t say right or wrong because sadly that is subjective in the world of Facebook.
Facebook has also been taking a lot of heat since the election that got Donald Trump elected. It’s
funny tragic since Trump has coined the term fake news, and his followers share a lot of it. Either way the sharing of misinformation is a problem and this study that was published in Sage Journals confirmed this idea.
They open up the abstract with:
“With social networking site (SNS) use now ubiquitous in American culture, researchers have started paying attention to its effects in a variety of domains. This study explores the relationships between measures of Facebook use and political knowledge levels using a pair of representative samples of U.S. adults.”
The research team was led by Michael Cacciatore from the University of Georgia. He wrote that:
“A greater reliance on social media and Facebook specifically for news might serve to depress knowledge levels. This is particularly important given the growth of news sharing and consumption through social media.”
So yes when your grandma or father-in-law is sharing ‘news’ from sites like iheartconservativenews.com it’s your job to let them know that they are neither sharing news or opinions. They are just spreading misinformation that is sensational that will get that site clicks.
Back in 2017, The Pew Research Center released a study that concluded that two-thirds of United States adults get their news from social media. This was the stat that I felt resonated with Cacciatore’s study:
“For the first time in the Center’s surveys, more than half (55%) of Americans ages 50 or older report getting news on social media sites. ”
I guess the sort of good news of this study from Pew is that Americans get their info from multiple social media sites. About a quarter of adults get their news from two or more social sites.
The only problem with that is, if you are a creature of habit you will just follow people that think the same as you. That’s why it’s important to watch and follow both sides of the argument and then you can properly identify which is true.