Do you trust information from social media any more or less than information from traditional media?

A conversation today on Midmorning looks at the potential drawbacks of the increasingly prominent role that social media play in our lives. Today’s Question: Do you trust information from social media any more or less than information from traditional media?

  • Lance

    Like all other news, I consider the source. Social media isn’t just a single source. It’s made up of many sources, some of whom are willing to just repeat the most salacious things they hear. On Facebook, I only friend those I actually know, and I can usually tell who is reporting something they actually know about versus those who are reporting something they just heard. Some of my friends lean way left; some of them lean way right. It gives an interesting perspective on some issues.

  • GaryF

    Facebook and Twitter? Most of the time it’s just a link to another media source or from an employee of that media source. I guess I don’t see many posts that are trying to make their own news or events.

  • reggie

    If it’s simple and low-stakes, I’ll trust social media. For anything complicated or nuanced, or where there are real consequences, traditional media and reference sources still have an enormous advantage. Both are fraught with conflicts of interest. Caveat emptor.

    There’s a trade-off between the empowered self-publishing of the internet and social media versus the controlled publishing of traditional journalism. Each has its flaws. At the moment we have swung too far in the direction of idiots with keyboards. This, too, shall pass.

  • Gette

    I’d like to think I practice due diligence with all news sources, although I will give a “trusted” source the benefit of the doubt. If something on social media attracts my attention, I’ll generally track it down for myself. Sadly, I frequently do this for the vindictive thrill of proving someone wrong…

  • Alison

    I trust social media less than I do the reporting from NPR, MPR, and a few other reputable news sources. I trust social media about as much as I do commercial TV and radio broadcasts.

  • Carrie terrell

    I trust ‘social media’ news posted by historically reputable sources: eg: NYT, MPR, WSJ.

  • John
  • John

    Not sure the medium matters. Check out this article from The Economist about Martin Luther’s use of social media in the 1500s. http://www.economist.com/node/21541719 I suppose some reprinters could’ve changed Luther’s text, therefore making social media untrustworthy. The story doesn’t say.

  • Mary

    Most people consider Facebook and Twitter the key social media sites, but I think Youtube is the best. For example here is a speech from JFK:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZYfeYhQ9eU&feature=player_embedded

    Its great!

  • B

    Depends on what it is. If it is info with a link back to a reputable source (NPR, BBC, etc.), than yes – I generally trust it. If it is info linked back to a less reputable source (Huff Post, Jezebel, etc.), I generally ignore it or take it with a grain of salt. Anything said with no link back to a source (like quotes attributed to famous people) are generally viewed with great skepticism. The only exception to the latter is if it’s an eye-witness account of something, but even then you have to consider who is saying it and if they are trustworthy.

  • B

    To add to my last comment and answer the question more directly – I generally trust traditional media more. Journalists, especially those at reputable papers, source the heck out of their info. I’ve seen stuff go viral on social media sites (again, the quotes from famous people) that are completely inaccurate. In fact, before answering today’s question I was just sourcing a Stephen King quote that is often repeated on the internet – the one he supposedly about the Harry Potter and Twilight books (“Harry Potter…is about overcoming adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”). This quote is constantly attributed to him, but he never said it. Some random blogger said it and it got attached to him. The same thing happened with a Martin Luther King Jr quote after Osama bin Laden’s death. I suspect many of the things attributed to Thomas Jefferson are also not real. So yes – because of that I trust “news” on social media a bit less than traditional formats.

  • Kim

    I consider MPR to be a reliable source on my FB feed. Re-posts from friends news sources generally reflect my friends own bias.

    Last year I learned, via Facebook and before the story or an obituary was published, that someone I graduated from

    High School with had been murdered. I couldn’t help but think that my Facebook friends who posted the news were being irresponsible. What if one of his family members learned about his death via social media instead of in person from someone close? That’s not how I would want to learn that I had lost a loved one.

  • Larry M.

    Trust? That is a difficult question because I think corporate media is over edited and replayed, perhaps not shedding light on or some times ignoring specific issues and often ignoring science and facts on controversial issues that sometimes just become a “talking heads” opinion fest.

    Social media perhaps more differing and less publicized perspectives, but some people believe things that I don’t believe, maybe things no one should believe, but I think I’d prefer to look at what’s out there and decide for myself rather than have some corporate editor worried about losing commercial sponsorship decide for me.

    Perhaps having both is the best because of the time it would take to be educated on every issue.

  • Greta J

    Thanks Mary!

    JFK’s speech against secrecy was great!

    Among the many great points he made about the systems intention to control by silencing truth speakers, I especially like the point that he made that it is all of our responsibility to report injustices as we see them.

  • Nicole

    I think one of the biggest disadvantages of using Facebook is the effect it can have on one’s self esteem. The nature of the site makes it nearly impossible not to compare yourself to others. For somebody struggling with depression or other mental health concerns, Facebook can be a terrible place to visit.

  • JasonB

    I “trust” nothing I can’t verify. I will take note of the information, but the delivery system of social media, in light of all it’s ulterior uses (data mining, etc.) does not give it much credence.

    Information posted on a non-professional social website has all the veracity of bathroom wall writings.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Of course I trust social media more. That many lemmings can’t all be wrong, can they?!?!?

  • david

    Social media is as good as anything. All “news” needs to be taken with a grain of salt. So much of what passes for news in main stream media is nothing but mindless fluff. Then there are media outlets with a political agenda that proclaim out right lies as truthful news.

    The biggest issue is that a lot of important issues are never brought up in main stream media. If it wasn’t for social media I wouldn’t know about the $8 trillion pre-TARP bailout the fed gave interest free to the banks during bush’s reign of terror. This is a BIG deal, but wasn’t covered at the time. There’s a lot of whining about TARP today, but it was small potatoes in comparison. I wish the real news media sources (MPR/NPR included) would point of the hypocrisy at the very least, but also follow the money. I would like to know where it ended up before anyone decides to raise my taxes. Though the damage has already been done.

    All commercial news outlets are going to face censorship in one form or another. If they are not worried about offending sponsors or potential sponsors, they are worried about losing access. This is particularly true and troubling when it comes to covering government. This is where social media plays a role. One just needs to be responsible and read it with a critical eye, do the research and learn the truth.

  • Mary

    It all depends on the source of the news article. Social media has nothing to do with it.

  • John P II

    A huge component of social media is the interactivity, which can be incredibly enlightening or a complete waste of time, and the technology – both of which have been increasingly adopted by traditional media outlets. The true source of information conveyed by social media can be tricky to identify or judge, but I think traditional media has become increasingly unreliable due to underlying ideologies that serve as part of the marketing strategy or other corporate concerns such as advertising dollars.

    So, inaccurate vs incomplete? Tough call.

  • JoanieJet

    ” Here is another good example of what is not covered in the mainstream media but social media does cover it.

    http://conservativebyte.com/2011/12/muslim-brotherhood-has-infiltrated-our-highest-positions-in-govt/

    I no longer donate hundreds to NPR because of their liberal progressive bias. Their bias is shown by what they REFUSE to air. This is why Congress wants to end subsidies to NPR.

    For example, no one talks about the full history of our leader or of his past affiliations with radical groups, Bill Ayers, Soros or the Islamic spokespersons. Where did he go to give speeches first , once he was elected? It sure wasn’t here in the USA. EVEN FEWER TALK OF THE $1.2 TRILLION SPENT FOR EACH OF THE PAST THREE YEARS while he pledged to cut the deficit in half the first year. Nor how he raised our national deficit by $5.2 trillion or of the shady deals made with campaign contributors to fund failed Solyndra and other green unsustainable industries, costing tax payers billions_ all wasted. No one talks of Obama and Biden’s support of Gov. John Corzine once Corzine is nearing felony charges. Or, just look at his CZAR appointees..mainstream media did not cover their backgrounds AT ALL.

    Social media at least brings attention to these issues affecting all of us.”

  • James

    I believe that sources like MPR/NPR, the networks and newspapers try very hard to be factually correct. Information articles tend to be distinguishable from opinion articles. But, there is a bias in what is covered, so there are issues of “omission.”

    I believe that sources like Fox News and the many other extreme leaning “traditional media” outlets (both right and left) play it fast and loose with the facts, do not particularly distinguish between information and opinion and have serious errors of omission (bias.)

    Social media (whatever that is defined to be) ranges from perfectly factual things (videos, reports, etc.) to well thought out opinion pieces to completely fabricated junk.

    Given that I have limited time to sort it all out, I tend to read weekly (or less frequent) magazines, and books, where there has been time to get to the bottom or things.

  • GregX

    Social Media is the digital information blender on the frappe.setting Oh it might “taste” good and be bad, and it might “taste” bad and be good – which will you choose? Taste or quality.

  • kennedy

    Traditional media is generally bland, pretty, and shallow. The previous comments are a microcosm of what I see from social media. Good and bad examples of facts, bias, and snark. Being unflitered, you can find some real gems but it takes a while.

  • GregX

    dear JoanieJet – “no one talks about ….” — ……………………… utter rubbish! we know more about Obama than his mama. we know more about dick Cheney and George Bush two, too. And ..if your hanging your hat on Victoria Jackson … you might want to dig a little deeper into her trouble resume – if your belief is that past affiliations and behavior have any impact on an individual’s credibility today.

  • Steve the Cynic

    It doesn’t matter what media source you go to for your information if you don’t know how to sniff out the bovine feces. If you’re going to believe whatever post-digestive cattle feed you find on a web site dedicated to promoting an ideology (such as conservativebyte.com or huffingtonpost.com), you might as well stick to reading People Magazine. At least that way you won’t go off half cocked about something that actually matters.

  • Greta J
  • It’s kind of a silly question, really. The medium is not the important thing – the source is what counts.

  • Greta J
  • R RS

    Another Republican as governor?

    Please – never again!