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Really, Facebook is Not a News Site


Satirical newspaper The Onion ran a mock story about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg advising users not to get their news from the social network site. The story is a joke, done in good spirit. “News” admits a broad definition. If your newsworthy horizon does not extend beyond what family and friends decide to advertise about their lives—birthdays, trips, photos, and other developments people are ready to share with their connections—Facebook is a gold mine. But if you have a keener interest about developments in the community, or world affairs, or anything that concerns a group larger than your social circle, then try to get them from newspapers or media organizations that deal in news. For all their faults, they have an editorial system in place for newsgathering. The other, equally important if more intricate problem with Facebook is that it may foster ideological tribalism: it is a well-known fact of human nature that we like to hear what we want to hear. Social networks tend to group like-minded people, who share news or information that conforms to their own particular views. So, next time you see on Facebook that a friend’s friend saw Elvis Presley riding a motorcycle in Mississippi, check first a newspaper or a media site. But seriously, Facebook is not meant to be your news source.

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