You don’t have to go very far to find some columnist whining that Americans don’t get their news from a “reliable source” anymore, which often means that columnist’s newspaper just fired a bunch of people and he’s worried about losing his job. But a new study from the Pew Research Center indicates that our exposure to news largely comes, embarrassingly enough, from Facebook.
The Pew Research Center studied how, precisely, we get our news and found some rather curious results in social media. Namely, that while 30% of us get our news from Facebook, it’s mostly by accident:
78% of Facebook news users mostly see news when on Facebook for other reasons. Just 34% of Facebook news consumers “like” a news organization or individual journalist, which suggests that the news they see there is coming from friends – the same friends likely sending them posts about…everything else.
It’s actually a pretty engaging study to read on its own. For example, the site that offers the most news, next to Facebook? YouTube. Shockingly, Tumblr is not used for news that often, perhaps because you can’t really GIF the news.
This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good in the sense that, well, at least people are reading the news. It’s bad in the sense that it reinforces yet another echo chamber on the Internet. How often are your friends posting links that disagree with your worldview? Or, for that matter, how often do people fall for The Onion or its host of imitators?
It’s true that we need the ability to pick and choose the news. And this very article will be part of the process. Still, one hopes that eventually people will seek out something that disagrees, however slightly, with their opinions. Or at least realize that the image macros from Shares From Your Aunt are actually jokes.