Can We Trust Any News on Social Media?

When someone is trying to find a trustworthy site to find the facts for whatever story they are following can be difficult with all the opinions out there in the world today. However, when it comes to social media it becomes almost impossible unless you know where to look, or have sources that you trust and look at first. 

            As I received the assignment of following a story or a global or national event. With everything going on I decided to follow the COVID-19 crisis and in particular the food problem in the world. I had a hard time trying to find one story in particular, so I decided to see how this problem would be perceived in social media. I used Twitter and Facebook to follow the crisis because to me they are opposites in how the stories appear. When I searched for the stories of food and hunger problems during the pandemic on Twitter I mostly found opinions from people with and without a verified account. However, I did find a lot of companies trying to help provide food to people and provide other solutions that people can help, While I was able to find trustworthy stories here and there, it was mostly opinions from people and companies. On the other hand, when I looked for the same kind of stories on Facebook, the results that showed up first was articles that were from sources like CNN, Time, The Guardian, etc. From there, the results that showed were accounts that were verified and people who hold a platform to share information. Overall Twitter had more opinions and people expressing their thoughts and solutions with trustworthy stories mixed in, while Facebook had the reliable sites with reliable stories up front at the top.

            On each social media platform there were about a couple thousand retweets and shares as well as comments, which surprised me because of how serious the problem is right now so I assumed and expected there was going to be a lot more. I felt like finding out information using only social media was only good if it was being found on Facebook since it gave the more dependable information right away. However, overall I wouldn’t want to learn about this problem through social media, since it’s mostly opinion based information. Take the Forbes article as an example. In its article, “How Social Media Has Changed How We Consume News”, it states “Most people will just scroll through their newsfeed and stumble upon relevant news content but just read the headlines or a short video clip of the piece. An average visitor will only read an article for 15 seconds or less and the average video watch time online is 10 seconds.” So for the most part if it has a catchy headline and short quick article or video then it seems trustworthy for many people who use social media to get their news. This is not good when it may not even be the full story or the truth, and yet people will share their opinions and it will spread like wildfire from there. In other words, social media, while it does have some dependable stories, isn’t a place where the world should be getting their news no matter if they trust the source not.

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