When you think about it quickly, the news from a study from Acquity Group released last week that says Facebook is the most trusted media channel for content created by a brand or company, isn’t all that concerning. Facebook has become the primary consumer channel for finding and communicating with brands. Brand content on Facebook is logically trustworthy as the company controls its Facebook content.
But the implications of the trust factor here are unsettling in a way. If Facebook is more trusted for brand content now — even more so that newspapers, email or television — how long will it be before the social network becomes the trusted source for news?
Now, there is a caveat that calms us when pondering this. News shared on Facebook can still be reliable (as reliable as news media outlets are these days) since it typically links back to the source. So the news might be found on Facebook, but is still sourced from NPR or the New York Times.
But the insidious adulteration of that news because it is accompanied by commentary from our friends or others we follow on these social networks will inherently change how we perceive the news.
It goes back to the old secret circle exercise from communications class. In a classroom of 25 people or so, the teacher whispers a 2-3 sentence story into one student’s ear. She passes it to the next student and so on around the room until it reaches the last student. He then recites the story out loud and the class compares what he says to what the teacher originally said.
It’s always different.
So when you see your “news” flowing by on Facebook, but it’s proceeded by a comment saying, “This is bullshit! President Obama isn’t even from America and is Muslim. He should be impeached,” your perspective of the news changes. It becomes a second or third generation of what the news started out as.
We can agree that consumers are done with traditional media in many ways. The same study confirms we hate commercials and would rather have branded content than commercials any day. But we shun the old way of doing things at our own peril, I’m afraid.
It’s just another red flag of the impending Idiocracy.
Oh, and the study, the 2015 Next Generation of Commerce Study, was a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers, so it’s not something to just shrug off. The full study can be found at Acquity Group’s site. Below is their snazzy infographic so you can see the bite-sized version: