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The Effect of Social Media on News Awareness

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Social media is known to have several impacts on our lives. One major way it has affected us is by the amount of accessibility we have to news, and easy we’re able to get news updates on our phones. In fact, it is now recognized that “Social media has become the main source of news online with more than 2.4 billion internet users, nearly 64.5 percent receive breaking news from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram instead of traditional media.” A statistical break down of this entails Facebook obtaining 43% of U.S. adults who retrieve their news from that platform, 21% of YouTube users receiving news from the YouTube platform, 12% of people retrieving their news from Twitter, 6% from Instagram and Linkedin, 5% from Snapchat, and 2% from Whatsapp. “Overall, 50% of surveyed mobile app and internet users have indicated that they receive their latest news from social media before they hear of it on live television”.

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According to Jihyang Choi, Jae Kook Lee, and Emily T. Metzgarc in their article, “Investigating Effects of Social Media News Sharing on the Relationship Between Network Heterogeneity and Political Participation”, “Social media offer[s] an interesting context that allows us to examine the interactive effects of the structural aspect of networks and individual patterns of information processing because social media function not only as networks but also as a source of information, particularly news”. When following certain news pages such as CNN, Fox5 news, MSNBC, BBC news, and others, multiple internet users have stated that they have received breaking news stories on their social media feed, then navigate to the news website to read the article and learn more about the news story. This, overall, has resulted in a “57 percent increase in traffic to news referred from social media”, and although it was not a percentage in the 70s or 80s, it is still a significantly high number, leading the public to the understanding that this is how the majority of people can instantly get their news, rather than needing access to a well operating television.

While this is a significant factor in how people retrieve their news, it has also been a proven fact that there has now been a decrease in how much news retrievers read news articles. Most, when trying to obtain the news, merely scroll through their newsfeed until they stumble upon a relevant topic or eye-catching news content, but instead of going to read a news article, they watch a video pertaining to it on YouTube, or they just read the headlines or skim the news article to gather an idea of or get a gist of what happened. What is quite shocking about this, is that “an average visitor will only read an article for 15 seconds or less” along with the average watch time for these online news clips being only 10 seconds.

Accompanying the fact that people quickly retrieve news, and quickly learn about it, comes the fact that people also quickly move on and forget because of the rate at which we receive our news. When watching the live news on television, any viewer will notice that we, as the news audience get news story after news stories sometimes compressed into a segment consisting of two to five minutes, then the reporter or broadcaster will move onto the next story.

The most common exception to this is when news broadcasters are delivering segments that are strongly related to politics and the molding or drastic changes that are being made in our country, and when it comes to breaking news, such as a mass shooting, a case involving police brutality, a case involving sexual assault, or riots and protests, or civil unrest as we would call it. This is commonly known as the result of people’s frustration because of what is happening in their town, or in politics, therefore resulting in political efficacy also known as the feeling that political action can or does have an impact on political processes, which is worthwhile when it comes one performing their civic duties. Because we have an influx of news coming our way both on television, and through our mobile devices, it is very easy to move on and sometimes forgot about significant news stories that took place in the past, or recently, because of the news that we are constantly receiving, which can occasionally be mistaken for slacktivism, because of how easy it to share the news content on social media, depending on what it is and if the person posting it is simply trying to share it, or to inform and influence other’s on the significance behind the news content that they are posting.

Millennials tend to find social media as entertaining and useful, mainly because they can follow news that is presented to them by news networks and by people they know personally. For instance, as a social media user, I tend to retrieve a lot of news information regarding people I went to high school and college with, whether they are friends, acquaintances, or simply people I knew, or recognize. Because of social media, it is easy for me to keep in contact with them and stay up to date with how people are doing based on what they and their associate’s post. The same thing applies to me in that people who are in contact with me through social media are able to keep up to date with the occurrences in my life based on what both my associate’s and I post. The same way this works with me and people I chose to connect with online, is the same way people are able to keep up with news stories released by people they follow.

News outlets share their stories via social media as well, but there also is commonly a person who shares this information to their followers or friends on social media. Either that or this person may be at a local event and has captured a newsworthy occurrence that took place during that event. Lee, Eun‐Jul and Tandoc, Edson each put it simply in their article “When News Meets the Audience: How Audience Feedback Online Affects News Production and Consumption. Human Communication Research” when they stated that “The digitization of news has not only increased individual users’ control over news consumption but also enabled them to participate in computer‐mediated conversations with news producers as well as other users through various feedback options”. This could be something as simple as a person who either lives in Brooklyn or is visiting Brooklyn recording an event they decided to attend there, such as The Labor Day Parade, or people visiting New York, attending The Gay Pride Parade, and posting it on their social media pages or stories because they are enjoying themselves, want to share the moment with their followers, and as a result of that, simply having a few followers deciding they will attend because they are in the area and want to participate in the enjoyment.

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Another example of this would be a person who would just happen to be walking to or taking a bus to the store and sees civil unrest happening in the street, a celebrity in town who is likely trying to remain discrete, or a massive violent event breaking out and deciding to capture it in case the situation worsens and calling the police, or them taking on one action, while someone or some others who are with them taking on the next action. In either case and either situation, it has been proven multiple times how easy it is for news to travel because of the common use of technology, and everyone has a camera on their mobile device, therefore, making it easier to create and spread news by wisely utilizing our owned media platforms and sharing to either spread awareness, or benefit those who are connected to us through these networks.

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The Effect of Social Media on News Awareness. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2023, from
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