Where Students Get Their News: Is Social Media an Accurate News Source?

On Tuesday, October 12th, a survey was conducted during third lunch to gather data of where students get their information. A total of 145 students participated, and the results were very telling.

First, the responses were split by gender identification: male, female, and other. Out of the 48 men who were surveyed, approximately 67% answered they receive their news from social media, which is tantamount to two in three men. The women surveyed had a similar result: a total of 59% gaining their information from social media, about three in five women. For the seven who identified their gender as other, a full 100% of the responses marked social media as their source for information. 

Next, the responses were split into four groups by grade level. Out of the 72 ninth-graders surveyed, 46 recorded social media as their main source for news. 32 of 48 tenth graders checked social media, 13 of 17 eleventh graders reported social media, and although only 8 twelfth graders were surveyed, the six social media results were still telling of the general consensus that social media is the most prominent source of gathering news among most students. Altogether, about 67% of all students surveyed reported they use mostly social media to obtain their information.

With this data, the question becomes: Is social media an accurate and impartial source for information? The results from our survey are analogous with the claim of Scientific American, that, “Social media are among the primary sources of news in the U.S.” (Menczer). Yet, this convenient way of obtaining news may be inaccurate due to the advanced algorithms that, “select only the most engaging and relevant content for each individual user” (Menczer). These algorithms ensure that every user receives different information based on their interests, and this information may or may not be biased to a certain perspective of a topic. But although social media platforms may filter the information it provides users, some people use this as a basis for additional research on a topic of interest. As 10th grader, Sam Michon, explains, “When I see something newsworthy that I’m interested in on social media, I would, more likely, research it as an article or an actual news source.”

So, as discussed above, social media can be a convenient resource for students to use for gaining information, however, researching more deeply what one sees on a social media platform can help to guarantee the accuracy of its claims and information. And there is still 33% of students who receive their news from other sources, which provides outlooks on topics outside of what is seen on social media, providing different perspectives that are important.

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