How are you reading this blog? Did you find it on Twitter? Perhaps we’re Facebook Friends and you saw it there. Chances are it’s one of these two since Facebook and Twitter provide the majority of the visits to this site. As you also getting your news through Facebook and Twitter?
Twitter has been touted as the RSS Feed replacement on CNet’s Webware and Facebook is encouraging users to use its services as their own personal newswire, according to this article on ReadWriteWeb. Are these good trends?
Social Media Is Filtered
Sure, you could be like Don Reisinger, the author of the Webware article, and follow everyone who follows you on Twitter, but while a broader slice of the world than just those who you are personally interested, it’s still a filter placed by the population. If you don’t follow back everyone who follows you, which I do not, then your Twitter feed is filtered expressly by your choices. This also applies to Facebook. You can Like news organizations on Facebook and get your news that way. You could also Follow them on Twitter, but chances are, you are still getting at least some of your news through your friends. They are sharing articles which you then read.
This filtering is a double-edged sword. It can isolate you. Social filtering is why I do not hear much news out of China. I’m not following anyone who is either in China or Tweets about it. But social filtering also keeps you from being bored with what news does find its way in front of you. You know you’ll like what you see, or at least be interested in the topic. Filtering makes discovering a new topic difficult. After all, even if you are following the actual news outlet, if you are following its Sports section, you still won’t hear much about China.
Social Media Is Easy
At the same time, it also makes getting your news really easy. You just visit the websites you were visiting anyway and the news is pushed out to you. Little, or no, effort on your part. The most you might have to do is go to your “News” List on Facebook to see what the BBC has put out recently. It’s a few clicks and you’re never leaving the party on Facebook. You can still Facebook Chat with your friends.
This is a good thing for society, I think. As well as making news more easily accessible, it makes it easier to discuss it. This encourages debate, both amongst the social media community as a whole and amongst friends.
Social Media Makes It Easy to Miss Things
But there are still problems. Let’s assume that you are being very good and following respected news outlets on Twitter and Facebook. It’s real time. As Reisinger said, sometimes the Tweets go up even before the RSS article is released. So you’ll have to be on Facebook and Twitter constantly, or you might miss something. Now, many people are. They can’t stand to be away from Facebook for one second or their Farmville plants might die, but I’m not. I like movies. That’s roughly two hours away from Facebook I spend a day (when I can fit it in). I jog. That’s a half hour a day away from Twitter. My God, the news I’m missing!
I Don’t Use Social Media for My News
Of course, I do keep an ear to the ground in social media to pick up on any new trends, but I use a Feed Reader as my main way to catch my news. Reisinger doesn’t like Feed Readers. They aren’t fast enough for him. If you want your news before anyone else has it, then yes, social media is probably more your speed. However when it is important not to miss anything, as with professional information, you might want to use a Feed Reader. If you are okay with missing information occasionally, then social media might be okay for you.
I need to have reliable, accurate, and consistent news for my profession, so I don’t rely on Social Media to get my news. There is always the option of a mix, or doing as Reisinger suggests and actually visiting the news outlet’s Twitter feed (or Facebook Page) to catch up on the missed items. I’m too lazy for that.
Feed Readers do have drawbacks. They aren’t very social and they can be a bit confusing. That’s why Mashable posted HOW TO: Get the Most out of Google Reader. Even the RSS icon and sign up process can be confusing. “Fan this Page to get news” is a much simpler call to action. It’s a news version of Amazon’s one-click purchase.
Other News Sources Do Exist
This post does make it seem like there is an either or choice between Feed Readers and Social Media, but there are other choices. How about those old favorites, bookmarks? Actually visiting a news website is one choice. Social magazines like Flipboard that mix social and feed information are another option. Even just Google searching interesting events and topics can yield plenty of useful information.
I just tend to use my Google Reader plus a dose of filtered social media shares. How do you get your news?
*This post was written as part of an assignment for my
but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.