According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, approximately two-thirds of adults from the United States get their daily dose of news from a social media site. As substantial and scary those statistics are, I can’t say that I’m surprised. The power of the Internet has led the masses out of the era of papers and television to the era of digital media. In this era of digital media, receiving news has become muddled with more distrust than ever before. Thousands of non-reliable sources become recycled and circulated by people who use their social media platforms to compare knowledge.
When we receive news on social media pages, it’s because someone else has shared something that they thought was important enough to share. The news we see on social media is merely one person’s idea of worthy news passing through into everyone’s newsfeeds. When the number of a story multiplies and shows up on a feed more often than others, that is when people choose to pay more attention to it. Let’s talk about ego. Social media has created a generation of, let’s be honest, narcissistic people with loud voices and opinions. The importance of news is graded by the keyboards of our smartphones and devices. This process filters out all other news that should also be given attention to but is not. When I look at my own Facebook feed, the most trending topic is of Donald Trump. He’s all anyone ever wants to talk about. And so, the more articulate and aware you are of Trump’s actions in a Facebook post or a comment on someone else’s Facebook post, gives you this “aura” of intelligence.
The worst part about it is that because of social media and the ability to share news instantaneously is that more often than not, the news isn’t credible. In fact, on-reliable sources and egotistical social medias circulating fake news has proven to be dangerous. Sunil Tripathi, a student of Brown University, was wrongfully accused as a suspect of the Boston Marathon Bombing. This erroneous “crowd-sourced” accusation created an unstoppable witch hunt for Tripathi. His life resulted in suicide. This is the nature of social media. The dominance social media plays in sharing incorrect information can cause more harm than good, especially in the United States.