Try to remember, if you can, all the way back to the dark ages of 2009. Yes, it’s been five years since then, and plenty has changed in the meantime. In 2009, smartphones were only half as popular as they are now, the economy was still struggling to climb back uphill from its worst downturn since the Great Depression and Twitter was still more or less a new kid on the block.
But now, Twitter’s become one of the leading methods of obtaining information on the internet. The numbers prove it.
A recently released infographic from the University of Florida Online shows that social media now drives 57% more traffic to news sites than it did back in 2009, Mashable reports. That’s an important increase, especially since nearly 65% of all Americans rely on the web to get their news updates. Just look at the online following both The New York Times and CNN have amassed on Twitter — more than 10 million followers for each account.
The most surprising statistic of all is probably that nearly half of all Americans find out about a breaking news headline directly from social media now instead of through an “official” news source. That means you’re more likely to see big news about, say, the Royal Wedding from the people you follow on your Twitter account whether they’re journalists, writers or simply folks you know from the local gym.
Twitter has effectively transformed the way we gather our news, too. In the past five years, top stories like Michael Jackson’s death, the discovery of ice on the planet Mars and the shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado were all broken by social media before the big outlets picked the stories up. That means Twitter has also revolutionized the way we understand the larger news stories, too.
Let’s assume you first saw tweets about the Boston Marathon bombing from users who were directly there on the scene. Without the authoritative reports of a larger news source delivering you the information, you might be fed incorrect details about the events, leading to even more confusion. That’s the danger of spreading information at such a quickened pace as can be done when Twitter plays such a large role.
Still, there’s no denying Twitter’s power. And now, with Facebook well past a billion worldwide users, social media has never seen more influence inside the world of current events and news delivery.
“The rise of social medias implements is starting to downplay the importance of detailed information,” explains Derek Bryan, Content Marketing Manager at Quez Media Marketing. “Instead of focusing on covering all the facts and being thorough, everything is kind of boiled down into bite sized pieces of information. While this may seem like a negative effect, it is a great way for individuals to become knowledgeable on current topics and stay informed.”
Five years ago, Twitter was still finding its footing. Now it’s become a leading force for breaking news across the web. At this rate, 2019 should bring with it some exciting improvements in the world of social media and news.