For many people, their first port of call on the internet is Facebook, so it would follow that the social network might become an ‘incidental’ source for news. As friends and contacts share and post information, opinions and links to news stories, you may find you start to build up a picture of the day’s events before you even buy a physical paper or click through to a news website. A survey by the Pew Research Centre in the US found that 78% of respondents said they received news information from Facebook ‘without actually looking for it’.
One respondent explained: “If it wasn’t for Facebook news, I’d probably never really know what’s going on in the world because I don’t have time to keep up with the news on a bunch of different locations.” Does this sound familiar? The researchers said the results provide evidence that the social platform exposes some users to news and information that they might not have seen otherwise. “It may be the very incidental nature of the site that ultimately exposes more people to news there,” the Pew Centre said.
On the surface, the survey seems like a pretty positive development in the social world – providing a wider source of information for users, especially content that they might not have otherwise looked for themselves. With this rise in exposure, does it mean we, as social users, are becoming better informed and educated? The idea is pretty subjective, of course, and depends on the type of news stories that are circulated. The likelihood is that the links that are most widely shared are those that provoke conflicting responses, or are concerned with an inflammatory subject – great for a debate but not necessarily always the most measured and unbiased views. Think about the type of news stories you’ve seen in your timeline recently – have you been inspired to weigh in with an opinion, or share a link, or sign a petition? Is receiving your news from social media broadening our outlooks or narrowing it even further with the biases of our friends and family? Or are we completely overthinking it? Tell us what you think!
Pew said that ‘it may be the very incidental nature of the site that ultimately exposes more people to news there’.
It also found that fully 59 percent of all adult Facebook users and 53 percent of Facebook news consumers mostly access the site through a desktop or laptop computer rather than a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.
Read more at http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/10/25/facebook-emerges-key-incidental-player-news#LRfEfth5x4OLfiEe.99