With over one billion active users, breaking news stories are frequently posted on Facebook long before they appear on local news stations. When law enforcement officials were closing in on the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing case, for instance, more people were glued to their social media pages for news than in front of their television sets. However, rumors were flying fast on Facebook as well as on other social media sites that turned out later to be untrue. Those who depend on social media to get their world news need to realize that the fast breaking news on these sites is often inaccurate. Those who take it upon themselves to act as citizen reporters frequently lack the journalistic training necessary to properly convey news stories to large audiences.
Nonetheless, the Internet allows us to be connected with the rest of the world in ways that we have never before experienced. When the earthquake of 2011 occurred in Japan, most people first heard about it from postings on social media sites. Facebook in particular was an excellent resource for those with family and friends in the affected area who were seeking information on how their loved ones were faring in the aftermath of the disaster.
Social media is also an excellent resource for fund raising organizations to quickly raise cash for those in need in areas affected by massive natural disasters. However, it is important for social media users to keep in mind that not all online fund raising efforts are legitimate. Those who want to make certain that their donations are used appropriately should stick with established charities or do careful research on fledgling fund raising groups before making a financial commitment.
Besides receiving lightning-fast access to news from all parts of the globe, social media users also benefit from getting their news online because they can be made aware of situations in their own neighborhoods that have not yet been reported on by local news outlets. For instance, neighbors frequently alert one another via social media to suspicious activities and situations occurring in the vicinity.
Image source: www.emergency-management-degree.org