New Study Reveals Facebook Is Not Fruitful For Local News

A lot of people get their news from social media accounts and profiles, with Facebook in particular being an important source of news for a lot of people. Such a phenomenon can be problematic because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up making it so that people would absorb a lot of fake news and misinformation and the like.

However, until and unless studies are done on the subject that come up with concrete data it can be difficult to truly determine what kind of impact Facebook as a news source can have on people. Also, the actual impact of Facebook as a news source is about a lot more than just misinformation and the like.

For example, a recent study revealed that a combination of media monopolies that have come out due to mergers, consolidation and acquisitions as well as Facebook’s algorithm which favors engagement has resulted in local news getting pretty much drowned out of the conversation regardless of the importance that it has to the people living in those communities.

Digital Journalism conducted a study just last week in order to ascertain the impact that these occurrences have had on local news, and suffice it to say that the data they have acquired paints a rather dire picture.

Two researchers by the name of Benjamin Toff and Nick Mathews used CrowdTangle to see how much engagement local news outlets were getting. This involved an analysis of 2.5 million posts on Facebook, with a particular emphasis placed on Arizona, Minnesota and Virginia. These were the states that the three researchers were most familiar with which is why they decided to focus on them during their study. Another reason was that they were somewhere in the middle of the media presence spectrum.

It turns out that pages that were owned by major corporations received a lot more interaction and engagement than pages that were owned by news outlets that had more of a local slant. In fact, local news outlets only got engagement if someone or the other decided to specifically seek them out.

Another thing to note is that fact that news that pertained to local matters tended to get far less exposure than news that had more of an international slant to it. That meant that local news outlets which specialized in local matters were in a lot of ways pushed to the background, something that is further compounded by Facebook’s algorithm which often ends up punishing a lot of pages by giving them less engagement if they don’t conform to what the algorithm generally tends to be looking for.

The thing is, Facebook made a change in 2019 that resulted in the algorithm favoring such posts. It would be intriguing to take note of how things were prior to this algorithm change. While it is not a given that things might have been better, it’s highly likely that the algorithm change has resulted in a shift in the news media landscape. Local news is dying out as it is, and Facebook is certainly not helping matters by favoring companies that tend to focus only on matters that are of international significance.

Photo: Getty

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