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Fake news backlash? Fewer use Facebook for news

Facebook began as a place to post profiles and connect with people at specific universities. It grew into so much more, and recently Facebook has found itself in hot water over how it handles user data and information.

The questions and criticisms that have come with that are warranted, and it has left Facebook scrambling to try and convince us all that we should still use the site. Statements have been given and promises have been made, though it is admittedly difficult to trust Mark Zuckerberg and his operation.

Another issue Facebook has had to deal with is what has been dubbed “fake news,” with the site being taken advantage of by all sorts of people to try and spread stories that simply aren’t true. Facebook has promised to fix that problem, even looking to hire some news credibility specialists.

People have turned to other sources for news

Facebook’s well-publicized issues aside, there are plenty of avenues for us to find news. But still, there is little doubt that a lack of trust with the site has led to people looking in other directions to both find and discuss what is going on in the world.

The numbers are courtesy of the Digital News Report (digitalnewsreport.org), which reveals insights about digital news consumption based on a YouGov survey of more than 74,000 online news consumers in 37 different countries.

Among other things, the survey discovered that Facebook is down 9 percentage points in the United States, while other platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat are increasing in usage.

The drop for Facebook began in 2016 and is seen in nearly every demographic:

The study also revealed people are more likely to use Facebook for reading or discovering news, but will turn to other means when it comes to discussing or sharing.

With Facebook, it’s mostly about confidence

Some of those surveyed said they have avoided the news aspect of Facebook in part because of how toxic the discussions on the platform have become. No doubt the recent political climate has led to some heated online exchanges, and it’s understandable why some would prefer to just avoid it altogether.

Yet, a majority of people polled said they are concerned with the fake news problem. Fifty-four percent of respondents pointed to that, with the number being even higher in the United States.

Of course that’s not necessarily specific to Facebook, though the site was certainly a place where such stories were shared and made popular.

In response to it all Facebook has changed its algorithms to promote friends’ posts rather than external news, though a good portion of the polling was done before that took effect.

At any rate, it has become quite clear that for all that Facebook has done to try and regain user confidence, there is still much work to be done.

It’s hard not to notice what news has done to the Facebook experience. Click on the podcast below to hear Kim’s thoughts on the matter.

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