Society, nowadays, has transformed into a much modern and tech-savvy society. People who used to get their news from their daily newspapers to watching news channels at a certain time and listening to the radio have now transitioned to social networking sites and platforms, such as, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, relying on global participation on the internet for digital communication and social news sharing. This fast pace global and digitalized era has been completely efficient and simple for most individuals to share social news, compared to our historical and traditional news outlets and resources. Many modern society members benefit from social news sharing as it personalizes their political, economical, or social news articles for them, which allows them to be up-to-date on a variety of news coverage, without flipping through several channels and newspapers. Economically, news organizations and business companies benefit from social news sharing as posted articles are increasing traffic on their respective websites. Though, unemployment rates have increased in the traditional media industry. Politically, social news sharing allows individuals to share a varied amount of information and to participate in various political stances and discussions. However, filter bubbles may not be able to diversify the mind of an ordinary user. Furthermore, despite some inaccuracies in news texts, social media is, nevertheless, still an excellent place to get news as stories break first on social media, which makes our society socially aware of the current happenings.
Blast from the past:
Traditional forms of media, such as newspapers, radios, and broadcast televisions were the mediums of getting any news out to the public. In a low-control environment like traditional media, media outlets were the ones with control. Therefore, users were exposed to a greater variety of information (Bode, 2015).
At present times:
With the new innovations and technologies, such as mobile phones, laptops, and tablets, digital platforms have emerged where media outlets are able to reach and communicate to a narrower target audience to deliver their news at a rapid rate. In 2018, 34% of adults from the United States mentioned that they preferred to get their news online (Geiger, 2019). While, back in 2016, it was at 28% (Geiger, 2019). The increase of 6% in 2 years indicates that websites, apps, and social media are driving the economic growth in the media industry, as they are definitely developing to become people’s preferred medium in reading about current events. Social media sharing is now instantaneous, events that used to take hours and days to become available to the public are now exposed and shared immediately to consumers via the internet, and various mobile and digital devices. Furthermore, social news sharing is not only facilitated or controlled by media outlets and their journalists. As social media users interact with others using their personal accounts, participatory culture has begun where users not only ingest the information, but they can also opt to collaborate and write articles themselves. This creates a level of socialization around the idea of a sharing economy as people feed each other with information (Genner & Süss, 2017). However, many implications arise. One of them is being able to produce false news.
How do ordinary users benefit from social news sharing?
It offers them a variety of services. For example, free networking, communication across the globe, publishing services, as well access to entertainment, in exchange for the rights to gather and analyze user’s data (Martin & Dwyer, 2019). Most often, users are not aware of this as this is stated in the lengthy terms of conditions that we must accept when we sign up to be a user of a specific platform (Martin & Dwyer, 2019). Thus, users believe they benefit from social news sharing as political, economical, and social news is personalized for them, which allows them to view breaking news as quickly as possible, in one click.
Figure 1: Estimated advertising revenue of the newspaper industry. News Media Alliance, formerly Newspaper Association of America (through 2012); Pew Research Center analysis of year-end SEC filings of publicly traded newspaper companies (2013-2018).
With the emergence of the digitized era, social news sharing has become increasingly prominent and available, leaving print publications with a decreasing amount of income. For the newspaper industry, the total estimated advertising revenue in 2018 was $14.3 billion (Pew Research Center, 2019). This has declined by 13% from 2017 (Pew Research Center, 2019).
Figure 2: Increase in newspaper advertising revenue from digital advertising. Pew Research Center analysis of year-end SEC filings for publicly traded newspaper companies that break out digital advertising revenue for each year.
With an increase in participatory culture in social media platforms, many users contribute to the growing economy by liking, commenting, and sharing news articles. The increase in traffic in the news and business organization’s respective websites has caused many users to visit their posts and websites and write about them. The more followers, likers, or consumers they have, the bigger their market reach, which has caused an increase in digital advertising revenue from newspaper companies. In 2018, digital advertising increased by 4% from 2017 and it accounted for 35% of newspaper advertising revenue (Pew Research Center, 2019).
Social news sharing benefits the modern social media user. However, traditional media employees are most certainly unhappy with the increase in digitized news as, in 2018, only 37,900 people are employed as reporters, editors, photographers, and film editors. This indicates that there has been a decrease of 14% from 2015 and 47% from 2004 (Pew Research Center, 2019).
Individuals in society also gain political knowledge, such as campaign information, as a result of exposure to political information via social media (Bode, 2015). Governments benefit from this since users are able to participate in an online culture by using their freedom of speech and stating facts with public opinions, which has led them to engage in political discussions about current events. This increases national political awareness and attention especially within the youth (David, San Pascual & Torres, 2019). The advantage of gaining political knowledge in this internet era is that due to personalized algorithms, in high control media environments, such as social media news feeds, users are capable of controlling the information that they are exposed to (Bode, 2015). This results in active learning and participative behavior causing them to engage with like-minded people. However, since the filter bubble only allows users to view articles that they personally believe and conform to or the stories that are trending or have been paid for to advertise, the minimally selected topics that are exposed to them are causing them to miss out on a greater variety of information (Bode, 2015).
One of the biggest impacts of socialization is the media. Media allows observational learning, which is the concept of learning lasting behavioral scripts by observing others (Genner & Süss, 2017). With socialization in place in media, digital natives are able to share norms, beliefs, and values, be it political, economic, or cultural. In this digital era, Social media is a part of a user’s daily routine. It has made communication easier for all kinds of people; people living overseas or people in need to spread a message. With one click, people can stay interconnected. However, because a user is in control of what they post on social media, a limitation of inaccurately written texts arises. There is a growing number of people who rely on fake eye-catching headlines in order to attract clicks, likes, and shares (Bakir & McStay, 2017). For them, fake news is designed to generate income for online advertising at the expense of accurate work (Bakir & McStay, 2017). One example mentioned by Marr (2020) in his article is that rumors spread that drinking alcohol helped act as a shield to the COVID-19 infection, when it has been accepted that alcohol actually does more harm than good. It weakens the immune system. As a result of this fake news, it did generate more advertising income with the number of clicks. However, deaths were reported as people consumed alcohol to try and disinfect themselves. For students like us, this is a massive problem. If we students write about unreliable sources and facts, it does not just affect our marks in school but also minimizes our learning as we are not able to receive and disseminate accurate information. Moreover, believing fake news just adds fuel to the fire. Although, with social news sharing just one click away, I admit that it has made me socially aware and it has made me more knowledgeable regarding topics I would not normally read about.
To sum up, the emergence of social news sharing has affected the lives of students and their studies. Reason being, the prominence of false news viral on social media impacts journalism integrity affecting the spread of knowledge and current events. On a positive note, this internet innovation has benefited many digital news companies and business organizations as they generate a great amount of advertising income as both professional and ordinary users are able to participate in social news sharing with just one click. Moreover, ordinary users are also in control of the exchange of ideas as they are producers of content.
Bakir, V., & McStay, A. (2017). Fake News and The Economy of Emotions. Digital Journalism, 6(2), 154- 175. doi: 10.1080/21670811.2017.1345645
Bode, L. (2015). Political News in the News Feed: Learning Politics from Social Media. Mass Communication And Society, 19(1), 24-48. doi: 10.1080/15205436.2015.1045149
David, C., San Pascual, M., & Torres, M. (2019). Reliance on Facebook for news and its influence on political engagement. PLOS ONE, 14(3), e0212263. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212263
Geiger, A. (2019). Key findings about the online news landscape in America. Pew Research Center. Retrieved https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/09/11/key-findings- about-the-online-news-landscape-in-america/
Genner, S., & Süss, D. (2017). Socialization as Media Effect. The International Encyclopedia Of Media Effects, 1-3. doi: 10.1002/9781118783764.wbieme0138
Marr, B. (2020). Coronavirus Fake News: How Facebook, Twitter, And Instagram Are Tackling The Problem [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/?sh=22606e3a2254
Martin, F., & Dwyer, T. (2019). Sharing news online: Commendary cultures and social media news ecologies. ProQuest Ebook Central https://ebookcentral-proquest- com.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au
Pew Research Center. (2019). Newspapers Fact Sheet. Washington. Retrieved from https://www.journalism.org/fact- sheet/newspapers/#:~:text=The%20total%20estimated%20advertising%20revenue,with%20%24 11.2%20billion%20in%202017.