During a walk home from the bus stop in June 2009, Twitter told me that Michael Jackson was dead. After dinner at my in-laws in February this year, Facebook told me that Whitney Houston had died. However, in both instances, I relied on the confirmation of news sources like CNN and TMZ to confirm the facts.
Socialmediatoday.com released an infographic in June that details how we now get our news. Although the article’s title notes “How Social Media is Replacing Traditional Journalism as a News Source,” social media is still third behind TV news and newspapers as a top source for news. In fact, thanks to social media, traffic to news sites has increased 57%.
Though more than 50% of people learned about breaking news via social media versus traditional news sources, the infographic also shows that about half the news that breaks via social media turns out to be false.
So what does this tell us about the way we receive news today? One, the news cycle is definitely condensed. News outlets used to have time to confirm facts before reporting. However, the internet and social media have upped the pressure to be first and accurate. Two, as news consumers, we must be diligent about confirming the facts for ourselves and not feeding into the “be the first” mentality.
Hold off on retweeting that news story or sharing it on Facebook, especially if it seems outrageous or downright unbelievable. Poke around to see what other news outlets are saying.
Share with us: have you ever read breaking news via social media outlets only to find out later that it’s false or inaccurate? How do you judge the accuracy of news information before you share it with others?