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(Posted on 13.7.2016)

Challenges Encountering Social media over News Dissemination

By Dipjyoti Das
Assistant Professor (Dept. of Media Science)
Media Hive News Network

JSocial media is rapidly transforming the concept of news dissemination among the masses across the globe. It has virtually reshaped the notion of collecting, gathering and publishing of information within the periphery of Journalism. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr etc are extremely popular among the youth and the majority of the population who are internet savvy. People can connect and share information within a matter of seconds with the help of this digital medium which is fast, easy and convenient compared to the traditional mainstream media preferably newspaper, radio and television. Time, space and distance is no longer a barrier for any individual who possesses a smartphone or a tablet or a device equipped with facilities supporting similar features.

The new media with all its technological advancement and latest upgraded tools are much more user friendly and accessible for the tech savvy audience. It has virtually turned the entire world into a global village where people from any part of the world can interact, exchange messages, share videos, upload photos, etc instantly.

The tremendous growth and popularity of social media has brought about changes in the way news is being disseminated among the masses. It has made a huge impact on the society as people are constantly updated about the events occurring round the globe minute by minute much quicker than any 24 hour news channel can realistically deliver. There has been a gradual shift in audience preference over the advent of the online media over the past few years. We are no longer dependent on the news channels or newspapers for keeping abreast with the events and incidents unfolding at every nook and corner of the world. Social networking sites and forums have made information dissemination much faster and quicker. It is extremely easy to find massive audiences with little or no effort.

However the news disseminated through the digital platform is also subject to authenticity and accuracy like any other form of news and information reported on the mainstream media. It is much more convenient to draw attention of viewers in social media through fake news. There have been numerous instances when fake news have been distributed in the social networking sites with grand success causing mass hysteria.
The biggest challenge is determining and differentiating between real and fake information which can be extremely difficult to establish. 16-Year-Old Samuel Gardiner managed to fool a huge number of the UK’s football fanatics by pretending to be a sports journalist working for The Times and The Daily Telegraph named Samuel Rhodes. Eventually, both The Times and Daily Telegraph caught on and exposed the account as fraudulent. But not before thousands of people read and shared his completely made-up news updates. At the height of its popularity, his Twitter account had over 20,000 followers and he was re-tweeted numerous times by sports websites(http://socialnewsdaily.com/55145/the-15-most-ridiculous-hoaxes-spread-through-social-media/)

The lack of credibility and transparency is a major concern with the news disseminated across the social media platform. Morphed pictures, fake and unverified news and distorted messages are matter of great concern among internet users who regularly access this medium. When the Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, many people shared breathtaking pictures on Facebook. As it turned out, the majority of them were just photoshops. (http://socialnewsdaily.com/55145/the-15-most-ridiculous-hoaxes-spread-through-social-media)

Since it also provides an alternative platform for the citizens to voice their opinions or make suggestions relating to issues concerning society and nation, it is of paramount importance to maintain the sanctity of the forum as well as harmony and and peace in society by adhering to the journalistic principles and ethics. The dangers and threats posed by the medium are serious and often enormous, so proper mechanisms should be adopted to curb or eliminate any anonymity or false news and also make sure it doesn’t infringe on the individual right to access information and comment. .

Views expressed are personal. The writer can be contacted at dipjyotidas.301@gmail.com

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