A Pew Research Center survey in 2020 found that eight out of ten Americans received news via their digital devices. In addition, slightly more than half – 53 percent – said they were getting news from social media.
Social media is a powerful tool for spreading information. This cannot be understated. Particularly when you consider following the news coverage about the Ukraine war.
The Hill was presented earlier this month with data from the National Research Group’s (NRG), showing that only 58 percent of Americans were aware of the conflict in Ukraine from social media. This compares to the 65 percent who read their news via TV. Younger users – those 18- to 24-year-olds – were more likely to learn about what was happening in Ukraine from social media. 78% of the news received by young adults was via social media. Only 46 percent said that they watched live TV.
The social media reaction to Ukraine’s crisis reminds me of the Arab Spring 2010. But the difference is that it isn’t just local, but global. James Bailey from the George Washington University School of Business, which is professor of leadership and management, said that social media has been making us feel uncomfortable about Ukraine, just as television did it a generation back.
Bailey said that social media has been used more often as a source of news in recent years. People don’t believe traditional news sources. They’re considered to be elitists and poorly informed. Crowd-sourcing, like it or otherwise is today’s trend. Wikipedia users would rather have you and I posting entries than scholars who have devoted their lives to the topic at hand.
It isn’t surprising that younger Americans are finding out about Ukraine – as well as other high profile events – via social media. While they tend to spend less time on the television, they also engage with other digitally.
Traditional media are intended for mass consumption, which is why they target mass consumers. Social media allows targeted communication to reach a specific audience. This means that messages can be targeted or targeted users. Highly emotional and provocative content has a better chance of being remembered and retained by our brains,” Marina Alvelais from CETYS University, dean of Psychology.
Alvelais said that effective interventions can help social media users think more accurately and leverage crowdsourced veracity ratings in order to improve their social media ranking algorithms. The preference to read the news via social media requires both attention and interaction.
A shift in perception
American opinion has been influenced by media for a long time, particularly during wartime. It was evident in the Spanish-American War’s yellow journalism. But it was Vietnam’s nightly news reports that turned the tide against war in Southeast Asia.
People are influenced by social media in their opinions about the Ukraine conflict.
Can you see the shift in U.S. perceptions during the Iraq War? If TikTok and Instagram controlled the conversation, as they do for Ukraine now. According to Dr. Dustin York of Maryville University, social media has been the dominant generating narrative in news. Wars have also shown themselves to be so,” he said.
Engagement with social media is also possible that was not possible before.
Bailey noted that it is easy to express disapproval of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, or send newsfeeds about it from a coffee shop while sipping a cup of espresso.
But, it won’t bring about real change, he cautioned.
Bailey said, “It’s not brave or bold. It isn’t clever or new.” To be certain, it’s progress that the global voice can be heard. But voicing an opinion on Ukraine – or any other world event – hardly makes one an activist.”