Social News Consumption & Its Limitations

  • Culture

The volume and range of content people have access to has never been greater. However, it’s odd that instead of leading to a more knowledgeable population, it has created an unlikely paradox among society.

Any and all types of information are quite literally at one’s fingertips, but people rarely have the time and motivation to comb through it all. Therefore, one in three people attribute social networks as their primary news source, which is reflective of how the majority of people stay up-to-date with today’s rapidly evolving times (Ericsson, 2017).

The addictive behavior of looking to our social networks for news has brought on a major societal dilemma where we now ingest content that is significantly lacking in diversity. The more we engage solely with the viewpoints of those in our networks, the more we run the risk of exposing ourselves to an echo chamber in which the same opinions, beliefs and entire ways of thinking are perpetuated.

Choice paralysis is no longer limited to the overwhelmingly replete shelves of brick-and-mortar. More frequent now is the crippling uncertainty that accompanies choosing how to spend our limited spare time among countless social channels. But today’s ability to personalize an array of products allows people to be in complete control of nearly everything that enters users’ newsfeeds and inboxes, helping to evade the threat of choice paralysis. For the vast majority of people, the personalization of content is not a conscious act to avoid opinions different from their own, but an innocuous attempt at sifting through a constant influx of content.

Without content personalization, how are people expected to sort out signal from all the noise? It can be hard to determine not only what is salient, but even what’s credible, given the intensified threat of fake news. Over half of American consumers find it difficult to tell if information read online is accurate (Mintel, 2017). That’s why people have turned to their social networks for information; they are easily people’s most trusted sources, in turn, creating a vicious cycle of fragmentation.

We’re living in a time when people’s perspectives are more divided than ever, but at the same time, they are evermore parochial. Brands have the means and scope to disseminate diverse viewpoints by using the trust established with their audiences to facilitate more constructive dialogue.