Social media creates a dynamic environment and motivates people to question, observe, make news and exchange stories. Everyone becomes active, being creator and consumer, connecting with each other with this invisible social forum to have their own voice.
Often, information on social media meets the news elements such as timing, proximity, and prominence and about human interest, just sourcing the trending topics on Twitters so that you are aware of situations as they happen is an example. Comparing with established publishing news, more inforgraphics or videos used in Facebook, Twitter, Google+ have attracted large audiences.
However how much can we trust such interactive, 24/7 updated news on social media? People want to see the truth. Professional journalists have a responsibility to provide accurate information. When anyone can be a news reporter, how can we verify the source of news, the capability of analysing the flood of information and the good intention of passing on news online? There is no gatekeeper to monitor or check each piece of news before “breaking news” is pushed towards us.
Social media was a double-edged sword during the devastating Sichuan earthquakes in China in 2013, allowing immediate requests for help or provision of assistance possible, while at the same time spreading rumours and delaying timely aid allocation. The same impact was seen during the Queensland floods and Tasmania bushfires.
How can we ensure the news can be trusted? I think both journalists and users should take responsibility for generating quality news to inform, educate and entertain the public. To adapt the challenges arising from this dynamic world, journalists should embrace Internet news and how integrity when sourcing and researching and by acting as a gatekeeper. Internet users at least should not pass on known false information and should check the news from different reliable channels.