The path-breaking transformation of social media platforms into news sources in recent years seems to be a trend that is slowly reversing, and the credit mainly goes to Facebook (FB) which rules the sector. From paid news to the data leak, there is no dearth of reasons for people to stay away from social networking, and the future doesn’t look rosy for the companies.
While the debate on the privacy threats posed by social media is raging, now it is official that more and more Facebook users are turning to messaging apps like WhatsApp, which offer more privacy, for their daily dose of news.
Users, especially millennials who desert Facebook in favor of WhatsApp find the latter more confidential and less ‘toxic.’ Now, what needs to be verified is whether Facebook is happy about the fact that people are still choosing a platform owned by it.
More and more Facebook users are turning to messaging apps like WhatsApp for their daily dose of news
A study conducted by a Reuters institute showed consumption of news on Facebook declined sharply in recent months. What catalyzed the shift in the attitude of social media users is the recent changes to Facebook’s algorithms, assigning a higher priority to ‘post from friends’ than news feeds.
Data from the survey indicate there was a 9% decline in news consumption on Facebook in the US this year, compared to last year. Some of the disillusioned Facebook fans believe the changing political landscape has triggered a clash of opinions on Facebook, making it a toxic medium. And, WhatsApp, which joined the Facebook fold in 2014 following a $19-billion buyout, in the preferred choice for most of them.
A key finding of the study is that users don’t trust Facebook anymore when it comes to privacy, and it goes without saying that the data breach scandal involving UK firm Cambridge Analytica and several other privacy issues have had a negative impact on users’ sentiment.
Nic Newman, lead author of the survey report, said users have been switching their focus to more personal spaces such as messaging platforms to discuss news. “This gives people more control over where and how they engage, but also potentially makes public debate and news distribution even more fragmented and opaque,” he said.