Innovation in 2017

Do Social Media and Journalism mix well?

Social Media: Gauging Reaction

On Wednesday the 23rd of August 2017, Nine News broadcast a Facebook live stream of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talking about lowering gas prices.

The comments of Facebook users flooded in as the Prime Minister continued to speak to the media, picture reactions floating across the screen indicating the reactions of users watching live.

The ability for news organisations to broadcast live onto people’s phones or tablets is an element of social media I am both amazed and bewildered by.

Not only does live streaming allow for those commuting to and from work to watch breaking news even if they’re not at home in front of the television, but it is also a simple way to gauge the reactions of news consumers.

Comments from 9 News Facebook Live stream of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Along with the influx of comments posted as users watch these live streams, Facebook’s ‘reaction’ buttons allow journalists to gauge the overall mood of viewers pertaining to the issues discussed. Sad, angry, happy or shocked faces fly across the screen as you watch the broadcast, showing the broad opinions of everyday people.

Social Media and Misinformation 

While Facebook can be used as a useful tool to reach a large audience in a matter of seconds, the trend of misinformation and ‘fake news’ articles from unreliable online news sources has somewhat broken the trust of online news consumers.

The ability to post false information is all too easy on social media platforms and has unfortunately allowed social media users to lump all media organisations into one category of unreliability.

According to an article written by the Guardian, in 2016 Facebook has received a “torrent of criticism over fake news during the US election”.

Buzzfeed wrote about Macedonian teenagers who largely contributed to ‘fake news’ on Facebook with clickbait headlines claiming Hillary Clinton “will be indicted in 2017 for crimes related to her email scandal”.

This post was shared over 140,000 times on Facebook, creating a scandal for Trump campaigners who believed the article to be true.

Made by VOA News

Following much criticism, Facebook has begun to filter and flag ‘fake news’ articles, which will hopefully create a more reliable and safe space for verified news to be shared.

If news organisations are to avoid being lumped into the same category as fake news websites then it is crucial for all facts to be checked thoroughly before publication.

Once an article is out there, it is hard for readers to forgive or forget misinformation.

About the author

Gracyn Willoughby-McEwan