Social media emerges as main source of information for younger generations

By Jonathan Moniz, Staff Writer

In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, roughly eighteen percent of Americans now get their news, information, and understanding of world events from social media.

Traditionally, news and information about current events has come from sources such as newspapers, magazines, and televised journalism, most prominent in the 1960’s, due to close coverage of the Vietnam War.

With the advent of the Internet, however, the shift for where Americans get their news has made a drastic change, especially amongst younger Americans. Due to the popularity of sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube, many Americans now get their news from social media and other digitally native websites.

There has also been an increase in online journalism and activism now as well-as many as 5,000 jobs are in the digital news sector, marking growth and potential in the field. Combined with the increasing accessibility of the internet via technology like the smartphone and the growing availability of computers, makes it a readily accessible news source.

With popular social media website Facebook having 1.86 billion active users on a monthly basis, the potential for the site to deliver news has readily grown.

The presentation of news over the past political season was one of the most widely cited sources for news, whether from streams from the presidential candidates or news pages themselves.

A rise in activism has also taken place, with more political websites such as Infowars, Breitbart, The Young Turks, and others gaining prominence amongst various political ideologies.

The websites frequently weigh in on political events with a particular side, such as Breitbart endorsing conservative values and The Young Turks taking more liberal stances. These various channels see traffic from both sides respective to their values.

Social media has also operated as an increasing alternative for press and public relations, with entertainment companies, corporations, and public and political figures opening up accounts on major websites in order to maintain a public profile.

Journalists and other traditional news sources as well now maintain social media accounts to tweet and share articles to followers in order to gather an online readership. It has changed the market by making it necessary for more articles to be produced in shorter times.

The Twitter account of President Trump is one of the most notable examples, as it has been one of the most common ways in which Trump has interacted with the public as President and during his campaign for the office.

Many, though, are worried about the possibility of social media to spread false information or “fake news,” as news is commonly shared amongst the platforms without checking. Most are presented with information that is unverified, and do not bother checking it.

The spread of this fake news has even prompted Zuckerberg to direct social media giant Facebook to install a fake news button to discourage the spread of false information, in direct response to public outcry.

As social media use has spread, it has seen more active participation from all walks of life. UMass Dartmouth maintains a Facebook and Twitter page to update the community, with thousands of followers between them.

The page is updated with all kinds of information, from announcements about the availability of campus to various outreach to programs, including congratulations to the sports teams and various other accolades garnered by the community.

Each club also follows through with their own increasingly online presence.

With the recent announcement of Chancellor Johnson to head UMass Dartmouth, the Twitter page tweeted a fifty-two second long video of him speaking to a community on the first floor of the Claire T. Carney Library with the words saying:

“Working together, we will make @UMassD a greater place and enable young people to realize their dreams.”


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