News Breaking on Twitter First
Before the era of social media, media houses reported breaking news with help of television and radio stations. According to Lynch, journalists covering breaking news were required to visit the news location and do a live coverage as quickly as possible (57). However, digital technology has transformed everything, giving the consumers a more convenient way to access breaking news. The introduction of smartphones and the Internet has rapidly increased the number of people who can access news. According to Barthel, Shearer, and Gottfried, a study by Pew Research in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation indicates that a majority of Twitter and Facebook users rely on these platforms for global news in addition to family-related insights. Figures indicate that about 63 percent of Twitter and Facebook users read news only on these platforms (Barthel et al.). Although the two social networks have almost the same number of users who use the platforms as the sources of news, the websites have different information distribution techniques that help people access the most reliable sources.
Twitter is a social media site that allows its users to send short public texts limited to 280 characters. The limit was doubled last year. According to Statista, Twitter has more than 330 million active users who are posting millions of tweets every day (“Number of Monthly Active Twitter”). Even though Twitter is a social media network, the site has transformed into one of the most popular news providers with help of such major media sources as Bloomberg. Twitter became the most common place for the breaking news for millions of people around the world. Therefore, it is important to understand how Twitter became the major news source in the 21st century.
Causes of the Breaking News Trend on Twitter
In recent years, Twitter has transformed into an information network, which is its major distinction from other social networks such as Facebook. Compared to newspapers and television, Twitter allows people to learn the news from the first-hand sources. The news in the mainstream media causes a desperate rush to get information, while first verifying it to ensure its accuracy and credibility. However, the large mass of active users can conveniently deliver news without being blocked by publishers. Therefore, the users are willing to take a risk without questioning the accuracy of the information (“Why Twitter”). Besides the ability to report news the moment they happen, Twitter also allows its users to create a bigger impact with less work. A piece of news can go viral even if it consists only of a single photo or a catchy title (par. 4). Another advantage that allowed Twitter to become a global news hub is the re-tweet feature that makes the redistribution of information more efficient (par. 5). Ideally, the retweet feature allows users to redistribute a story easily while reaching thousands of users within a short time. The feature also allows high distribution outlets to endorse low distribution outlets.
Initially, Twitter allowed users up to 140 characters of text before increasing it to 280 characters. The number of characters in a tweet allows users to deliver only the essential information (“ Why Twitter”). Twitter’s feed is also chronologically organized, which makes it easy to get the latest news fast especially if consumers use the platform continuously (“Why Twitter”). The trending feature on Twitter allows the users to see the most trending news, which is why they can be constantly updated about the relevant events. Similarly, users can easily filter a topic and view only the trending news. Hashtags also help create impromptu news pieces and discussions. Therefore, it is easy to access the most trending news and see different points of view with help of trending hashtags. Another feature that has made Twitter so popular for breaking news is the ability to post two stories in one tweet. It is possible to post breaking news and later update the followers with a full report on the same thread.
Unfortunately, despite the popularity of breaking news and the ability to update the consumers about the current events, Twitter has one shortcoming. Twitter does not guarantee that the information on its website is accurate and credible. Besides, it becomes challenging to control the spread of such news once they hit the social media platform because it is easy to share the news to millions of users in a short period. Nonetheless, no other platform that offers breaking news does it as good as Twitter.
Twitter has greatly transformed the way breaking news are reported. More particularly, the social media platform has transformed into a news platform and can easily defeat the competition due to the company’s constant growth. Breaking news are generally reported first on Twitter due to the large number of active users who can post the information without being restricted by publishers.
“Why Twitter Is Still The Best Place For Breaking News Despite Its Many Challenges.” Forbes Magazine, 20 Jan. 2015, https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/01/10/why-twitter-is-still-the-best-place-for-breaking-news-despite-its-many-challenges/#2cd7ac026ab0.
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