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Facebook usage is up -- what does its growing media role mean?

Pew new social media numbers tell a story – sort of.  Now we know, that despite of -- or perhaps because of its inadvertent dissemination of fake news, Facebook usage is up. So consider that 62% of online age 65+ adults use Facebook.  Also note other Pew data:  only 58% of adults age 65+ are online.  So translate that into 36% of the total 65+ population (or 16 million) using Facebook.  Observe that 83% of American older adults aged 65+ have grandchildren. Is there a relationship between having grandchildren and needing to view updates on Facebook?  Look at AARP Tek Facebook training. It is far too basic given Facebook's role as both dominant news media source and influencer. 


Facebook is the subject of greater scrutiny – sort of.  Another Pew point: 62% of US adults get their news from social media, mostly Facebook and to a lesser degree, Twitter. This makes sense. But given Fake News hoopla, tech industry folk are reminding (someone) that they shouldn’t rely exclusively on Facebook for news. Duh. So more third party news watchers are being enlisted to weed out the fake stuff, while preserving the 'partially true.'  And Google wants to help! According to Bloomberg, "Google announced that it would start labeling fact-checked articles in Google News results." Whew, that’s a relief – because Google’s fact-checking tab, begun before the election, signals actual truth, right? Nah, apparently it was only aggregating content, not guaranteeing its trustworthiness


Facebook proudly helped to 'get people to vote' – is that good?  Beyond the fake news kerfuffle, Facebook already admitted it needed third party checkers examining its flawed consumer interaction metrics used by advertisers. And in the recent post-election hysteria, Mark Zuckerberg proudly announced that Facebook succeeded in getting more than 2 million people to register, and perhaps another 2 million to vote who otherwise would not.  Intriguing – but most interesting is how Facebook decides what to show in the News feed – note the power of popular news items, 'whether or not they are true.' Did that news feed play any role in getting folks up and out to register and vote?  


Facebook suggestions and user non-responses send messages about users – but can these be inaccurate?  As the election wore on and on and on, it seems that Facebook began suggesting politically-oriented groups to join, which was puzzling to those who had no stated Facebook profile political preferences. In fact, in a new feature within the profile section of its site, political preferences could be derived from those of your connections. But suggested groups could also be based on your geographic location or, weirdly, the preferences of your connections' connections. This can result in paradoxes for those whose connections include both 'liberals', 'moderates', and 'conservatives.' Perhaps this power to influence should be translated into more in-depth third-party training available for the 1.6 billion Facebook users.  


 

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