Why you shouldn’t rely solely on Facebook for news

Millions of Americans have gotten into the habit of getting the majority of their news from Facebook. This can be from the service’s new local news tab or from friends and groups who share news stories.

Despite Facebook’s new local news tab, the social media giant has been making changes to its newsfeed over the last two years that show users more posts from their friends and fewer posts from pages and brands. This, of course, is due to the fact that Facebook wants news organizations and brands to pay for advertising to let more people see their posts.

You may follow your local news outlet’s page on Facebook, but go visit the page sometime and you’ll notice that Facebook has only been showing you a fraction of what they post. If you’re relying on Facebook to deliver news to you, that strategy isn’t working in your favor.

When Facebook first made these changes in 2018 they are actually acknowledged that this move would mean users spend less time on Facebook. At the time, the company said they wanted to improve the quality of the time spent on the site, but the truth is probably much more simple, the tech giant doesn’t want to be a media company.

So, if you are one of millions of Americans who gets their news exclusively from Facebook, you will probably want to actually spend less time on Facebook and dedicate that time to actually finding news on the Internet.

In the interest of helping you find news from reputable sources, here are a few sites you will want to hit up to stay informed now that the news isn’t popping up in your feed as much as it used to.

LOCAL NEWS WEBSITES
Back before social media existed, if you wanted to know what was going on in your city or town, you had to visit a local news organization’s website. This needs to become a part of your life again. Now, I know since you’ve been relying on Facebook to deliver your news, you may need a little primer on where to go. Not a problem. If you aren’t sure where to find local news, you can subscribe to a local newspaper here. Even if you don’t subscribe, this website will tell you what some of your local newspapers are, so that you can visit their websites.

At any rate, since Facebook will be showing you news that your friends share, but not necessarily news shared by news organizations, visiting your local news websites should become a regular part of your news diet again so that you can make sure you are following real news and not just relying on Crazy Cousin Jen’s conspiracy blogs.

TWITTER
Now that you won’t be spending as much time on Facebook, you have time to explore the wonderful world of Twitter. If you haven’t made the leap and started using it — or if you tried it before and didn’t like it — now is a great time to give it another look.

In 2018, Twitter gave its users 280 characters instead of 140, which is plenty of space to post a status and your Twitter feed, while still controlled by an algorithm, is a little more honest than Facebook’s. For the most part, Twitter shows you a stream of the most recent tweets.

You can also use Twitter’s trending topics to keep up with what is going on in the world, and since news organizations and journalists are obsessed with Twitter, it is actually an effective way to stay on top of both local and national news.

REDDIT
Again, if you’re not spending as much of your day on Facebook, feel free to explore other social networks. Reddit calls itself “The Frontpage of the Internet” and it isn’t hard to see why. Articles and links posted on Reddit are upvoted by readers, so if there’s a topic people are talking about, you’re going to see it on reddit. Most communities have a subreddit where local news is being posted and upvoted.

While this may not keep you away from fake news, redditors vote on stories by using the site’s upvote and downvote features, so it has some built-in self policing policies. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, reddit’s users control the content, not an algorithm. This is really a more human-centric method of sharing news stories and is more true to how people share news offline.

GOOGLE NEWS
News junkies and journalists know all about Google News, but for the average person it is a hidden gem. Type news.google.com into your web browser and you will be taken to Google’s news aggregator. Here Google crawls news websites almost in realtime and presents them in a feed you can personalize. It isn’t perfect, but if you are struggling to find ways to stay informed, checking Google news each day will make you much more informed.

SNOPES
Last, but not least, since Facebook is going to be relying heavily on your friends to share news, you’re going to want to keep Snopes.com handy. This is a fact-checking site, so when Crazy Cousin Jen posts something she believes is “news,” you can go to Snopes and see if there is any validity to her claims.

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