Social media has developed at an astounding rate over the last 10 years, from a way to socialise with friends and colleagues to bringing us the latest news, trends and reports from all over the world in double quick time.
More people than ever are now using Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks to monitor the news rather than the traditional sources of TV and radio. In fact online news now generates more income than printed newspapers.
One of the advantages of reporting news via social media is that ‘breaking stories’ can be reported instantly, and then followed up with a full report. Although, as with all social media this can sometimes be a disadvantage when the breaking news has been erroneously reported.
When you add the huge growth of the social media networks to the increase of mobile devices and smartphone users amongst the public, we are also seeing more news reports from people on the street. As technology advances and with the increase of smartwatches this kind of news reporting on social media is likely to grow even further.
The very nature of social media gives everyone the ability to share news stories, images and videos, not just journalists. This in itself has played a part in breaking news events over recent years.
Last year Facebook introduced its “Trending” sidebar to allow users to filter by topic and see trending news about politics, science and technology, sports or entertainment. Although users are twice as likely to follow breaking news on Twitter rather than on Facebook, perhaps due to Twitters strength in providing ‘as it happens’ coverage. Twitter’s live streaming app Periscope further emphasises their focus on giving information about live events as they occur.
Twitter’s latest offering, Project Lightning which Twitter is now calling Moments, is currently being rolled out. A ‘Moment’ is a group of tweets put together on a specific topic or a breaking news event by Twitter or Twitter partners like BuzzFeed and the New York Times. This will be accessed via a new tab inside the Twitter app, although they can be shared as links within tweets as well. A Moment will let you follow a group of people talking about ‘breaking news’, in a much easier way.
As more of the social networking sites recognise and adapt their roles in the news environment, they will undoubtedly develop and offer their own unique features as social media continues to grow as a news source.