News on Twitter has a credibility problem says study
Research being reported by RWW that suggests people are more likely to question the credibility of news if they read it on Twitter compared to seeing it on a news website or a blog — even when the news originates from the same source.
The results are surprising and the researchers appear to be struggling to sufficiently explain it. Personally it makes little difference to me where I’ve read news be it on Twitter or a website.
It doesn’t come down to where I’m reading it, but rather who is reporting it. It is the source of the news that’s being reported and not the platform it is reported on.
For the research, published last month in Communication Quarterly by Mike Schmierbach and Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, the same New York Times stories were posted on the web and on Twitter and the reaction was then gauged.
The story posted on the website was seen by respondents as more credible than when the same story was posted on the New York Times’ Twitter feed. It also found that stories posted on Twitter were seen as less important than stories in a newspaper or linked by a blog.
Why would someone doubt the Twitter feed of the NYT or any serious news organisation when the content is the same?
The researchers suggest that consumers could be questioning Twitter’s credibility when it comes to news based in part on who is making the recommendation, or retweeting the news, and because of its widespread use by celebrities.
That suggests our the value we place on a news item, and its end worth, is changed based on the view we have of certain Twitter users. As if we package up the agenda of the person sharing the news with the news itself.
I can see how that might happen, but again it makes little sense if they are retweeting news from a good source such as the BBC or NYT.
“The research suggests that people’s feelings about a news outlet may become intertwined with opinions about blogs and Twitter, as well as individuals making the recommendation to a particular story. All of this comes at a time when Twitter is increasingly being seen as an emerging news source, with about 85% of its trending topics, on average, being headline news topics or persistent news topics.
“While the experiments ruled out certain reasons as to why stories posted on Twitter were seen as less credible – including the length of the story and the location of where it appears on Twitter’s news feed – researchers could only speculate on the actual reason.
“Perhaps this stems from media coverage of Twitter linking it to celebrities and shallow posts from ‘average’ Americans,” Schmierbach and Oeldorf-Hirsch wrote. “Exploring exact perceptions of Twitter and their role in credibility judgments would be a worthy future direction,” from RWW.