Social Media Usage Is Up – Even Your Grandmother is on Board

There is no doubt that social media has taken the world by storm. With constant talk about who posted what on Instagram or that funny cat video your aunt shared on Facebook, it seems as though social media is everywhere now.

With the founding of Facebook in 2004, there has been a steady increase over the 12 years in social media users for all age groups, according to studies done by the Pew Research Center. As expected, when social media was in its early stages, the most common group of users were those in the 18-29 year old age group with a small, but mighty 12 percent of users.

Although overall social media use has increased, it is interesting to point out that the percentage of users in the 18-29 year old age group has plateaued since 2013 in comparison to the 65+ age group which has witnessed an increase in social media use: from 26 percent in 2013 to 34 percent in 2016.

 

Source: Pew Research Center

When looking strictly at the social media use of 2016, it is clear that Facebook has the greatest use in comparison to other platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. In addition, the social media platform, Instagram, has the greatest age gap with 59 percent of users belonging to the 18-29 year old age group and only 8 percent of users in the 65+ age group.

Source: Pew Research Center

Only time will tell if social media will continue to reign supreme. With more and more people going on the grid each day, it is obvious that these platforms will continue to change throughout the future. Until then, catch me sending out tweets to my favorite celebrities and of course, getting that aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed.

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Is ‘Fake News’ the End of Journalism?

Let’s face it – those in the journalism industry are facing a tough time at the moment. Now more than ever, people do not want to trust journalists because of the possibility that whatever they are writing is “fake news.”

However, you can’t blame them though. With social media at its peak, anyone can spread information. Whether it is a young college student videotaping a protest and broadcasting it on Snapchat to your great uncle sharing his racist views on Facebook – there is no escape from the wrath of social media and those who want to freely express their opinion – good or bad. Although social media enables individuals to connect to an even greater network of people through platforms such as, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, these supposed benefits do come with their consequences.

These consequences were made clear through the unexpected spread of fake news during the 2016 Presidential Election. With articles spreading that detailed how the Pope endorsed Donald Trump to news of an FBI agent associated with the Hillary Clinton case being found dead – it is shocking how people actually believed these articles to be true and chose to spread them around on their various media platforms.

In a recent article by BuzzFeed News, in which they listed 50 of the biggest fake news hits on Facebook, it is embarrassing how an article titled, “Woman arrested for defecating on boss’ desk after winning the lottery,” received over 1.7 million shares, comments and reactions on Facebook.

So whose fault is this? Should we blame the reader for believing such a thing? Or the media platform that enabled readers to have access to the articles in the first place? Although everyone has the right to freedom of the press, at what point has this freedom been taken advantage of? What does this mean for the future of journalists and the news industry?

As we look forward to the future, it is up to the journalists to stick to their morals and only write material that is true for the purpose of informing readers, NOT to get the most amount of “hits.” It is up to the readers to do more than just read the headlines, they must critique the article and learn to not carelessly share articles without checking them first.

And I’m not alone – with articles popping up everywhere from NY Times to the Center for Media Literacy, there are so many individuals out there that want to bring back a good reputation for journalism, rather than the one that has been tainted by fake news articles and money-hungry journalists.

As for right now, we will just have to wait and see. However, for those studying journalism, like myself, the key  is to stay loyal to your practice and not be affected by those who disapprove of journalists due to their biased views of the industry. Not everyone is “fake news.”

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