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Are social media sites more important than the news? (Debate Topic)

May 5, 2012

Although I am an avid reader of online news, I am also an avid ‘social networker’ Further, Facebook is the home page of my MacBook (I know, I know) This means I usually check my Facebook before I complete my daily, and search.  Because of this I have found out important world events through social media, this has happened many times actually.

Some of the more important issues that were made known to me through Facebook, twitter or Tumblr were: The death of Osama Bin Laden, the terrible Tsunami’s in Japan, The Christchurch earthquakes, Australia’s bushfires last year and Barack Obama being elected as the American President.

Social networking creates an immediate and effortless platform through which information can be accessed by a wide readership. This instantaneous nature has somewhat allowed social media to supersede traditional news outlets.

If an ordinary citizen views something that is considered newsworthy, the information may be shared by the individual online long before television networks are able to secure an exclusive interview for their 6pm broadcast.

This can mean by the time that the story is featured online or on TV the information has already circulated through social media.

Some examples of this are:

Sonhair Athar, a computer programmer from Abbottabad tweeted about hearing a helicopter near the Osama Bin Laden compound. He then become world famous as the guy who ‘live blogged’ the raid on Bin Laden’s compound before the press got there.

According to a New York Times bloga relative of an individual close to Whitney Houston’s hotel room tweeted about her death 42 minutes before it was featured in the press.

Further, The social networking site Twitter was developed for exactly this purpose, spreading information to a large amount of people in a short amount of time. Unlike Facebook, where your statuses can only be accessed by the people you decide to ‘friend’, your tweets can be read and retweeted so they are available to a larger and more widespread readership.

And don’t worry; I wont leave it out… Who could forget the infamous Kony 2012 A short video by The Invisible Children that became viral in a matter of days due to tweets by Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Oprah Winfrey.



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