Social Networking Sites: The newest place for news
The Web is considered a significant place for individual users to share, search, and peruse. Generally people feel very positive over Web and Internet interactions as it fulfills many of their needs — learning, political engagement, governmental interaction, and community collaboration with friends and family. In 2014, Pew Research Center released a report with a benchmark on how people felt about the Web on its 25th birthday. Since 1995, Web users have jumped from 14% of users to 87% (Pew Research Center, 2014, p. 5). This study also lists the direct impacts that the user is experiencing:
- 90% of internet users say the internet has been a good thing for them personally and only 6% say it has been a bad thing, while 3% volunteer that is has been some of both.
- 76% of internet users say the internet has been a good thing for society, while 15% say it has been a bad thing and 8% say it has been equally good and bad.
The digital technology within our current media landscape is leading closer to a primary source for nearly everything, including news.
“Users of the internet and mobile phones made clear those technologies feel increasingly essential, while more traditional technologies like land-line phones and television are becoming easier to part with” (Pew, 2015, p. 6). In addition, Web uses are energetically social. As confirmed by Metzger and Medders in 2010, Internet users frequently look to Web-based applications like social networking sites (SNS) to help assess information and source.
The explosion of social computing in the last several years, whereby individuals engage in wide scale communication, collective resource building, and collaboration online,
makes it easier for individuals to trust information found on SNS and see them as credible (p. 8). Moreover, the concept of social confirmation is introduced—if a number of people use some Web site or material, endorse it, and approve it, then users assume it’s credible. Quite simply, this makes Facebook an easily accessible and credible site according to the current media landscape especially because users are able to conserve time and cognitive resources.
Users will continue to use SNS as a place to interact and seek information because it is a habit.
Habits are formed in the media landscape and will become automatic parts of life because it is comfortable. In addition, users will follow the theory of media attendance; once they've committed, they won’t want to change. “Although long overlooked in communication research, recent qualitative research suggests that a great deal of media behavior is habitual” and is “directly related to Internet usage” (Robert & Matthew, 2004, p. 362).
Metzger, M., Flanagin, A., & Medders, R. (2010). Social and heuristic approaches to credibility evaluation online. Journal of Communication, (60), 413–439.
Pew Research Center, February 2014, “The Web at 25.” Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/02/25/the-web-at-25-in-the-us
Robert, L. & Matthew, E. (2004) A social cognitive theory of internet uses and gratifications: Toward a new model of media attendance, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, (48)3, 358–377.