by Graham Pierrepoint
The concept of Facebook being used for anything less than social updates, life events and photos was something of a sticking point for the brand up until recent years – while the site has been keen to push for users to share more of their lives online with the introduction of new features and widgets over the years, the platform has also very quickly become a bastion of news-sharing – so much that Facebook has its own division to help cater to news sharing, though that side of things has been in the news recently after it emerged that the controversial news ticker would be getting removed after controversies last year.
So – it seems that people are generally flocking to social media to learn about breaking stories – but if recent data has anything to go by, it appears that Facebook may be losing out to instant messaging when it comes to sharing big stories. WhatsApp, which is actually owned by Facebook, appears to be getting increasingly favored in terms of news-sharing according to a recent study published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Using sample surveys from polling organisation YouGov, the study’s research time quickly found that, on the whole, there has been a 9% drop in sharing of news on Facebook between 2016 and 2018. In return, WhatsApp has reportedly seen an increase in news sharing by up to 4% between the same years. This could be an indication that not only are younger people moving towards more instant social media such as IM services and Snapchat, but that Facebook may also be losing its place as a bastion for social news sharing.
Facebook has had something of a controversial year thus far, with news breaking on how the network shared users’ data with third parties such as Cambridge Analytica bringing major concerns regarding the network’s place in data safety to light. Despite its pitfalls, however, the brand has pressed onwards with new tools which have been designed to help users control the data that is held on them and shared with other parties – and there’s even news that Facebook will be entering the world of online dating – albeit perhaps a little bit later than the big brands already in the market – later this year. Will this data change Facebook’s operation going forwards? Let’s wait and see.
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