Stop blaming Facebook for Trump’s election win

Stop blaming Facebook for Trump’s election win© Getty ImagesFacebook didn’t decide the election. And Donald Trump is certainly not going to be the next president of the United States because of his ability to wage a successful Twitter war with celebrities and news outlets.Since the “surprise” results of the 2016 presidential election, we have been inundated by stories of how social media limits political discussion to likeminded others, is based on algorithms that limit exposure to diverse news, and is responsible for spreading fake news. Did these factors play a major role in Trump’s White House victory? We have been researching the social effects of Internet use since the late 1990s. The suggestion that social media are responsible for large-scale social change is great for our business! Nothing spurs communication research like an old fashioned media panic. But as experts in that business, we are all too familiar with exaggerated claims about technologies’ social implications. Just as the internet does not make us socially isolated or more stressed, Facebook and Twitter feeds did not decide the election.Despite media coverage that suggests otherwise, few social media are ubiquitous. While most Americans are on the Internet, and about 70 percent of online adults use Facebook, other social media sites, including Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, are used by less than a quarter of the adult online population. When people are asked if they “get their news” on Facebook or other social media, about half say “yes,” which is less than a third of all online adults.Yet this exaggerates the role of social media as a source of hard news on public affairs. Many Americans think the Kardashians and their local sports teams qualify as “news.” When asked to recall where they got their news concerning a specific hard news issue, TV and radio dominate as sources. The average Facebook user clicks on only 7 percent of the hard news content available on their feeds. Far more Americans get their news from television than from social media.

Source: Stop blaming Facebook for Trump’s election win | TheHill

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