Is Facebook the New Newspaper?

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As Facebook celebrates its tenth anniversary, I’ve done a lot of thinking on the way people receive their news today versus how they did when Facebook was actually called The Facebook. In my communication inquiry class, I worked with a group that tested if college students were more likely to trust a news article they saw on their news feed or an article that was posted on a newspaper’s website.¬†Our hypothesis was, “college students will view a Facebook article as more credible than the same news article on the newspaper’s website.” –unfortunately we were wrong, but only slightly.

The way that we tested this was by creating a survey on Qualtrics and sharing the link to our survey on social media and through a mass email to our classmates. The participant would then be given a list of questions on their social media behavior and their main source of news. After they completed the preinterview portion, the survey would randomly show them a news article that was identical in content, but was either a Facebook post or the article on the newspaper’s website. After viewing the article, the participant would answer a variety of questions relating to how credible they viewed the article.

After we collected the data from over 180 participants we had recruited, we found that only 1% trusted the website article over the Facebook post. This research definitely left room for errors, especially taking into consideration that the experiment was conducted by a group of undergraduates who had never done anything like this before. However, our findings do deserve some consideration as important insight into the minds of millenials and their major news and social media habits.

Social media is this really amazing platform that allows everyone to experience the most basic features, but also possesses really powerful tools for the social media expert to unleash. Keeping the public informed on major news events in the world in an instant is one of the greatest features people are  really benefitting from websites like Facebook. Newspapers were good at informing people about world news before the radio was used for more than just a military tool. When the television was put in living rooms across the nation, they created a new way that consumers received their news and the radio was no longer the main way to get your news. If history is any indication as to what we can expect to happen to the way we gather our news today, social media is the newest and greatest source and is not just a passing fad.

To celebrate the evolution in news consumption, I am planning to continue working on understanding what the average person wants to know and how they want to learn that information. Right now, it looks like it is all about Facebook. With that being said, happy 10th Anniversary Facebook and may all 10 year olds learn to make the same impact that you have on society!!

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