Should we trust social media?


There is a piece of news in recent time. It describes a basketball players’ trading in the USA, the National Basketball Associations; The Minnesota Timberwolves have reached an agreement in principle to trade All-Star forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers. This information has appeared in the early morning in August 8th 2014 (Sydney, Australia time), only few minutes after, that information was soon becoming the headline of sport website; however, it may take several hours to make that news appear on newspaper and TV Channels.

How could that information disseminate in a dramatic speed? It is all about social media. In the past decade, a larger numbers of social Medias have been produced for customers. Those new technologies and advanced electronic devise have contributed a great impact on the proliferation of social media; as consequence, those new technologies, such as tablet and smart phone, give audience easier access to the social media. Comparing with traditional media, social media could disseminate the information in dramatic speed. In some certain condition, social media is fast and instant; so that users are prefer them rather than tradition media, which could help them get information faster than before. If we looking around, it is easy to find that social Medias, such as facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have became parts of our life. Since now, increasingly people tend to become the users of social media. As a consequence, audience are increasingly participating into the social media, traditional media are constantly trying to adapting the new media conditions, many of them have already open their own websites and create online version.

However, problems are always appeared with progress. The information, which produced on social media, seems have low credibility. There are large numbers of fake news on the internet; many of them are released by social media, such news is including “Facbook are planning to shut down” and “Morgan Freeman death rumors”, the second one have appeared twice in the last few years. In my point of view, there are two main reasons why that fake and unethical news appeared.

One reason is the participators of social media are armatures. As the social media developed in a rapid speed, not only users, but also media participators are expanding. Such speed generate some serious problems, Catharine Lumby, who present her idea in early 2014, argues that the main aspects of unethical news are many media participators do not establish their awareness in media ethics. She said, in social media, news has been produced by armatures and distribute them in professional ways, in addition, the traditional self-regulation patterns in media have been weaken in social media. I am agreed with that point, and I think there are two main problems which low down the credibility of news on social media. Firstly, because of social media industry are developing in a rapid speed, social media needs more staffs to handle the information, which means they may not have enough time in training their new staffs. In my own view, media participants, without fully training, new media staffs could hardly handle their tasks when they first begin their work. Some phenomenons are quite common in the social media recruitment, higher degrees in journalism are not necessary; while, some relevance degrees could be accepted. Secondly, fast speed in social media news tends to be a double-edged sword, on the one hand, it accelerate the news dissemination process, on the other hand, because of the high speed in news dissemination process, news accuracy could not be guaranteed. In traditional media, they could have at least few hours to check their works, some errors could be corrected, but for social media, they may only have few minutes to finish their work and release them, some mistakes may be occurred, especially for those participants who are not skillful in journalism.

The other reason is the characteristics of social media. In recent time some journalism experts said that ‘ethics’, ‘news worthiness’ and ‘public benefit’ as the top three emphases in criteria of assessing ‘excellence in journalism, however, in many cases, online journalism and social media are overemphasis the news worthy, and weaken others. Social medias establish for monetary purpose, because of they could not receive funds form government, and they also need to maintain the media operation, attracting audience is the prior target., as a result, ethics and public benefits may be ignored, customers interests may be emphasis.

In my opinion, there are some implements to solve these problems: establishing new media regulations for social media is a good way to approach that problem; meanwhile government should invest some social media, in order to guarantee the quality of online news, in addition, enhancing the training process for new media participants. The operating frame of Australia Broadcasting Corporation could be regarded as a typical model in media patterns, although ABC is a traditional media,





This is a famous Fake Hurricane Sandy picture of the Statue of Liberty being shared on social media.



O’Donnell,   P, McKnight,       D    and Estes      J. (2012)       Journalism    at    the Speed     of    Bytes,    Sydney:       Walkley Foundation   for  Excellence    in    Journalism.


Lumby, C,(2014) Media Ethics; The Media & Communications in Australia(4th edition),Crows  Nest:      Allen     &       Unwin: pp346-pp349




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