These days, college students are getting their news and information via social media. According to the Pew Research Center (PRC), Facebook is the number one destination for social media news. YouTube and Twitter are also popular destinations for social media users to get their news. Social media has also surpassed newspapers and equaled television as a news source for adults under 30.
“I think ease of access is important,” said Dr. Patrick Hadley, Assistant Professor of Communications at the University of West Georgia. “If students are already on Twitter or Facebook, a news story that is on that medium is easier to access.”
According to a survey done by PRC, the increased popularity of mobile devices is part of driving this trend. Almost a fifth of Americans get their news from social media and about a third of those got it while using a smartphone. On top of that, people who use mobile devices to browse the internet are three times more likely to go to social media for news. To further support the connection, as of the date of the article was published, a quarter of Americans have downloaded an app dedicated to reporting news.
“Another factor is that social media is very timely, if not immediate,” said Hadley. “Students do not have to wait for the morning newspaper or the evening news or the radio news at the top of the hour. They can learn about an incident as soon as someone with a video camera or blog post can report on the story.”
An article on CNN.com said, “In today’s warp-speed world, online missteps spread faster than ever.” the already present desire to break news first is exaggerated by social media. Consumers of social media want to know now, but not necessarily accurately. Hoaxes and unfiltered celebrity thoughts travel through social media so quickly it is difficult to correct. The perceived trustworthiness of social media also has a role as to why so many young adults get news on these sites.
“I think a lot of young people place more value in what people post as news on social networks than what is reported by large media organizations,” said Hadley. “I think it is similar to the fact that many young people trust reviews of restaurants, hotels and movies written by people like them, as compared to reviews by professionals employed by large media organizations.”
The travel-planning website TripAdvisor, uses this idea to their advantage. If someone logs onto the site using Facebook, their friends’ reviews will be the first results to appear. Yelp, a popular review site that allows people to rate local businesses, allows users to find reviews on local attractions by “people like them.”
Social media is increasingly the go-to destination for news. If new mobile technology and more widespread use of social media are any indication, the trend shows no sign of slowing down.