With the click of a button, the global news system can be accessed in seconds. Our fingerprints are key holders to the world’s best kept secrets and have access to the latest up-to-date news via social networking sites (SNSs). Social Media has changed the way global news is consumed daily by millions of innocent individuals (Kavanagh et al., 2019). It has gained the power to shape the minds of individuals and convert humans into information hungry predators. The last three decades, we have experienced the transformative trends from traditional media to new media. News, that once was controlled by major news corporations and outlets are now open to the public sphere to be shared, criticised and commented on. News production roles have shifted, but is it indeed for the better?
“The emergence and spread of cable news networks, broad access to the internet, and the rise of social media radically changed the ways that news information is produced, shared, disseminated, and consumed,” (Kavanagh et al., 2019, p.4).
Kavanagh et al., (2019, p.5) mentions that 90% of American adults used online media as a main source of news in 2018, whilst Roy Morgan (2020) confirms a similar result of over 12.7 million Australians (60.8%) in 2019. The use of technology has evidently increased the growth of online news sources, even faster than the decline of other media’s consumption rates. (Kavanagh et al., 2019, p.4)
Traditional media vs New Media
The need for news broadcasting has been around for decades. From the first continuous press in 1704 in Boston, radio established in the late 1920s – 1940s to live television broadcasting in the 1950s after World War II. It is clear that traditional media has had an enormous impact on the future news scene, but the expansion of the internet in the 2000s was a global change no corporation or audience was prepared for (Lumen, n.d.).
(The Evolution of Traditional to New Media by Jo Marchianne Pigar Retrieved from YouTube: https://youtu.be/fWJ3vE6-r8c)
The basic human interaction of sharing has impacted our lives to what it is today. Social media has developed as a mean of sharing and receiving information from trustworthy sources to participate in our local community.
“Consumers tend to be leveraging social media to create communities around collaborative consumption,” (Katie Cincotta, quoted by John, 2018).
This statement emphasises on audiences needing to share and justify themselves online to seem ‘normal’ in society. The sharing economy plays a large role in online participation, as technology is seen as an enabler of social news sharing (John, 2018, p.77). Social media platforms have shaped our society into technological driven individuals sharing opinions based on questions on our newsfeeds, such as ‘Tell others what you experienced today…’ or ‘Share your location’.
Ownership and control
Large corporations have created these so-called digital imaginary bubbles the last decade for audiences to contribute and participate in. Most SNSs consumers are fooled by the term ownership and control within social news sharing, as the switch from traditional media companies controlling the news sector has merely transformed into digital media companies regulating it. Social Media Giants, such as Google and Facebook have dominated the media field by offering participants complimentary messaging and entertainment services in exchange for their personal information (Martin, p.95). These corporations have ownership over what we like, share and produce.
Chadwick et al., (2018) defines fake news as false stories produced by news corporations to achieve a gain of some sort. The fact that social networking platforms allow unreputable sources to share their opinions online that is easily mistaken for facts, can have vast effects on the political scene. Audiences receive constant biased information through their profile’s following list and are influenced immensely leading to a great political imbalance in society.
For alongside fake news, there is the everyday online production and circulation of information that is exaggerated, sensationalized, selective, or assembled from a web of partial truths in hybrid networks of reputable and less reputable sources (Chadwick, 2018, p.4258)
The Cambridge Analytica (CA) Scandal is another example where misinformation and privacy breaches online are evidently influencing political choices. CA acted as Donald Trump’s data analyst experts for the US election and breached Facebook security to obtain personal information from Facebook user’s, to build software targeting them with personalised political advertisements (Cadwallader et al., 2018).
The sharing of news through SNSs have reshaped the economics of modern media consumption. Traditional news outlets have had to switch over to online platforms to gain online trafficking, as the subscription-based era has transformed into gaining advertisement revenue (Kavanagh et al., 2019, pg.7). Smaller online news outlets now have the chance to establish themselves through marketing techniques and attractive content, as consumers have access to thousands of choices. Karnowski et al., (2015) mentions how SNSs have simplified their platforms to facilitate news sharing for media companies and the public. Sharing tools such as, “reposting” and “retweeting”, (Karnowski et al., 2015) are beneficial for news sites as they rely on users to share content to gain traffic, views and improve their economic success.
The effects of news sharing online can negatively impact social aspects of platform users’ lives. Personalised algorithms target users specifically and manipulate audiences into believing biased information. Digital bubbles are formed by news companies aimed at controlling and manipulating audiences with either political, economic or cultural propaganda. The rise of social media sharing is exploiting us through encouraging sharing our everyday lives. Large corporations benefit off our shared information and personal stories. Algorithms and cookies constantly collect our data that these platforms sell to third parties to analyse and in return we receive even more targeted advertisement that we are intrigued by. (Van Dijck quoted by Martin, pg.97) Some may call it the inevitable circle of social media, but I would call it unacceptable, as many users do not even know this is happening.
Social media culture has also formed a particular opinion on certain age groups, as platforms such as Facebook and Instagram’s users are majorly younger in age. Many news articles shared are humorously at the “expense of conservatives and ‘baby boomers,’ (Hurcombe, Burgess, & Harrington, 2018, p.9) as social news tends to take a more liberal stance in society. There are many trends that have shaped the general public offline. Online hate such as bullying, cat-fishing, cancel culture and racial discrimination have been transferred over to reality, influencing social problems and increasing anxiety, eating disorders and self-hate. Another trend shared via social news was to label conservative elders as; ‘Karen’, if they were acting out of place. We have seen these trends all over platforms such as Tik Tok and Instagram. The fact that people can share and comment on social media behind an anonymous identity has caused many horrific incidences.
Who benefits from social news sharing?
The modern triangle of news being controlled by the media, audiences (public) and the government is partially impractical, as they’re all trying to achieve different goals. Social news sharing is beneficial to all three parties, but in hindsight unfortunately the public benefits the least. Governments and media corporations simultaneously control the global media through collecting data and influencing audiences, whilst profiting thereof.
Fortunately, social news sharing does allow us as users to share opinions, comment and start our own newsworthy content with this liberal shift in society. Hurcombe, Burgess, & Harrington (2018) mention that social news has brought a positive outlook on the news scene with its vibrant visual content and emotional attachments. This has users sharing news more emotively, instead of being depressed by previous years’ traditional conservative mediums.
Cadwallader, Carole and Graham-Harrison, Emma (2018) Revealed: 50 Million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/cambridge-analytica-facebook-influence-us-election
Chadwick, A., Vaccari, C., & O’loughlin, B. (2018). Do tabloids poison the well of social media? Explaining democratically dysfunctional news sharing. New Media & Society, 20(11), 4255–4274. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444818769689
Hurcombe, E., Burgess, J., & Harrington, S. (2018). What’s newsworthy about ‘social news’? Characteristics and potential of an emerging genre. Journalism. doi:10.1177/1464884918793933
John, N. A. (2018). Sharing Economies. In The age of sharing (pp. 69–97). Polity.
Karnowski, V., Keyling, T., & Kumpel, A. (2015). News Sharing in Social Media: A Review of Current Research on News Sharing Users, Content, and Networks. Social Media + Society, 1(2), 1-24. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305115610141
Kavanagh, J., Marcellino, W., Blake, J., Smith, S., Davenport, S., & Tebeka, M. (2019). News in a Digital Age: Comparing the Presentation of News Information over Time and Across Media Platforms. doi: 10.7249/rr2960
Lumen. (n.d.). The evolution of the media. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/atd-baycollege-americangovernment/chapter/the-evolution-of-the-media/#footnote-67-1
Roy Morgan. (2020). It’s official: Internet is Australia’s main source of news; TV remains most trusted. Retrieved 6 November 2020, from http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/8492-main-sources-news-trust-june-2020-202008170619
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