Technology-aided social media is a highly dynamic world, and users switch from one platform to the other in no time. A recent study reveals that more and more users are shifting away from Facebook Inc.'s (FB) main app, the world’s largest social media platform, to instant messaging applications like Facebook-owned WhatsApp, for consuming news content.
Amid increasing concerns of the online spread of fake news, it appears that there is a decline in trust that people have in the social media platforms for accessing news content. The study, compiled by The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which surveyed 74,000 people in 37 countries across five continents, indicates that the use of social media for news fell by 6 percentage points in the U.S. compared to last year, according to Geo News. A further dive into the user classification indicates that Facebook has lost more ground among the younger audience, as usage of Facebook is down 20 percentage points for younger audiences compared to the previous year. (See also: Facebook's Declares Total War On Fake News.)
"Almost all the decline is due to a decrease in the discovery, posting and sharing of news in Facebook," said lead author Nic Newman, research associate at the Reuters Institute.
Listening to WhatsApp, Instagram
As the news industry continues to face issues of authenticity and legitimacy amid the increasing use of internet connected devices that serve news through numerous apps and online platforms, various mediums have emerged through which the end user accesses and consumes news items. High turnaround and switching is observed in consumer preferences for news consumption.
The report further found that WhatsApp is being used for accessing news by around 50% of the polled sample in countries like Malaysia (54%) and Brazil (48%) and by around a third in Spain (36%) and Turkey (30%). Another social media platform, Facebook-owned Instagram, had also seen increasing adoption across Asia and South America, while Snap Inc.'s (SNAP) Snapchat progressed in Europe and the U.S. (See also: Top Companies Owned By Facebook.)
Another interesting finding from the study indicates that 54% of the users expressed concerns about fake news, a major point of contention in the online world. A majority of the respondents opined that news publishers and platforms have the responsibility to address the issue of fake news, and there was a general global consensus that governments should also share the responsibility and “do more” to fight the menace.
While Facebook and microblogging site Twitter Inc. (TWTR) continue to remain popular among global users for discovering news items, users appear to find more comfort in discussing developments on messaging apps, finds the study. A possible reason for the switchover is the feature of closed-knit private groups and known contacts offered by messaging apps, which better enhances the trust factor among the connected users as compared to the open and global sharing on Facebook.
The study was conducted collected before Facebook customized filters on its News Feed feature in January as the company was facing disapproval for mishandling low-priority news items.