BY JONATHAN COOK
Social media may not have a profound impact on the news industry as first believed. Only eight percent of Americans who have Twitter accounts consume news from the site’s forum of tweets, according to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center. The same study found that 30 percent of Americans “get” news from Facebook.
These results were collected over a two-part report that surveyed 5,000 Americans. News was defined as “information about events and issues that involve more than just your friends or family,” according to the Pew Research Center.
Facebook is still more popular than Twitter as approximately 64 percent of Americans have an account on the site compared to just 16 percent who can tweet, according to the study.
Alicia Arnold, a biology major from Pequannock, N.J., described herself as a “passive” Facebook user. She said that news-gathering from the site could lead to some people being “misinformed.”
“People usually post things that side with whatever that they’re interested in,” Arnold said. “[There is] a lot of bias.”
Arnold said that the last major news event she discovered through Facebook was the recent shooting at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J.
“People just posted [comments] saying things like ‘I’m not going to the mall today’,” Arnold said.
After discovering that a shooting occurred through social media, she researched more information from the crime scene through Google.
Deirdre Stjohn, a journalism major from Lake Hiawatha, also found social media “reliable” to keep updated with a major news event.
According to Stjohn, she “constantly posts on Twitter” and just “reads” her Facebook feed. These habits assisted her during the aftermath of the Hurricane Sandy.
“Probably the hurricane that we had. I follow Parsippany focus [Facebook page]. They update you on a lot of things in Parsippany,” Stjohn said. “So they gave a lot of updates on the hurricane and what’s going on. That’s how I stayed in touch with the area.”
Colin Bayne, a liberal arts major from Boonton, N.J., does not have an account on Facebook or Twitter, but he said some of his friends are active users.
Bayne said receiving news from social media is as reliable as traditional media sources, despite not participating in it and that getting news there is “more of a good thing than a bad thing, because you have so much access.”
“If you’re already on Twitter and Facebook, then it’s probably the most likely place you will get your news,” Bayne said.