Contrary to popular notion, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter may actually encourage users to visit a variety of news sources instead of a few. The same appears to hold true for Google too. This destroys the view that people who get their news from social media view it through filters or in an constrained environment which reflects their beliefs or opinions.
These findings have been brought to light by researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the University of Hohenheim, and GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences. It’s a very significant study because it highlights how digital media has influenced the manner in which the internet population stays informed.
Before sharing news on social media became a thing, people deliberately went to a news website or switched on the TV for their daily dose of headlines. These days, users are inadvertently exposed to what’s happening around the globe through their peers when they log into Facebook or Twitter.
The most interesting point raised by the aforementioned research is that not only do users come into contact with more news on social media platforms these days, they also see more news from different sources than they usually would. This happens partly by chance and partly by conscious choice.
Till date, it has always been thought that intermediaries like Facebook, Twitter and Google, to name a few, would have a negative impact on the diversity of news accessed by audiences. However, incidental exposure to news through such mediums have allegedly yielded the opposite result in most cases.
Also, the more time people spend on social media, the higher the chances of them being unwittingly exposed to more news as well as different sources of such information. Not only is this study socially and politically impactful, it’s also crucial to journalistic integrity.