Social media is just the opposite what it tried to present, as said, leaving everything behind social media didn't come to a period of beating the news behind in any way. Social media is something which gives you a duplicate picture of what you are trying to convey. More and more it seems the old truisms of social media were, in reality, nothing more than our imagination.
Last month BBVA Research explored the question of how social media and mainstream news media compare when assessing longitudinal perspectives of entire industries. Using Twitters social signal and the open data GDELT Projects news analytics, the researchers compared how the two mediums captured the financial services industry and FinTech.
Interestingly, the BBVA report confirms that the trends found in breaking news events also hold true for longitudinal industry analyses. In the case of breaking events, news and social media offer largely similar perspectives hour by hour as the event progresses.
Twitters supposed great strength lies in its speed, suggesting that if it is not any faster than journalistic reporting for breaking news events, that finding would likely hold for the kinds of longitudinal analyses that news coverage typically excels at. Indeed, this appears to be the case.
It is a particularly intriguing finding that media tends to reflect stories that have a broad societal impact, while social media is more reactive to individual impacts and interests.
This is again quite similar to breaking news in which traditional news media tends to act as an overall barometer of societal impact, while Twitter offers a highly reactive signal composed largely of retweets, especially of news coverage.
In other words, news media acts as a filter in which journalists across the world, embedded in their geographic and demographic communities, identify the stories of greatest impact on those communities.
In contrast, Twitter is a raw unfiltered firehose in which mindless retweeting is indecipherable from deeply engaged sharing.
More importantly, accessible social media signals like Twitter are increasingly disappearing. The total volume of daily tweets has plunged, it has not spread geographically, the site is increasingly centralizing around elites and it is transitioning from content to an attentional platform.
The latter is perhaps the most devastating to the use of Twitter as a form of social radar. As the platform shrinks and the remaining tweet volume increasingly consists only of retweets and link shares rather than original textual posts, the platform is essentially becoming a barometer of attention rather than a source of content to be mined for citizen-level narratives and events.
Putting this all together, we are increasingly finding that many of our accepted truths about the way social media functions are in reality myths formed of the projection of our own aspirational imaginations onto a shiny new technology rather than actual trends supported by fact.
In the end, in a world in which data is increasingly seen as a bulwark against misinformation, perhaps we should spend a bit more time reexamining all of the truisms we take for granted about what our data actually tells us.