A new Pew Research Center survey found a COVID-19 information gulf between those who mainly receive their news through social media and those who mostly depend on traditional news sources.
The survey found disparities in expectations for a vaccine (social media users less likely to be aware of the scientific community’s projection of vaccine readiness in a year) ; and also a disparity in social media consumers belief in most COVID-19 information with 57 percent reporting they believed that at least some of the virus information seemed “completely made up.”
While the latter disparity may –hopefully– just be consumer savviness of not believing unvetted social media news, the most alarming divide was the difference between social and traditional media consumers and their perception of the COVID-19 threat.
Forty-five percent of social media users believed COVID-19’s risks to be “greatly exaggerated” with radio news consumers closely behind at 44 percent. Only 26 percent of print consumers believed the same.
Pew Research Center made a point to highlight that print consumers more often “pay” for their news. Is there a link to paying for news and the expectation of veracity? Perhaps. There are protocols and ethics in most traditional print outlets and their online counterparts and these extra measures take time and thus cost money.
Everyone is using more social media nowadays as more of us wait out the pandemic at home. Social media a great resource to stay connected and get information. In these troubled times however, when the correct information is crucial to our survival, it important we all pay attention to journalists and media outlets with proven track records of responsible information dissemination.