RESIDENTS PERCEPTION ON THEE CREDIBILITY OF NEWS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
This study examined the perception of residents of Abuja on news credibility on social media. Seeing as social media involve users‟ generated content, the sources and reliability of these contents are sometimes uncertain. With the credibility problem associated with social media news, it is essential to determine the extent to which social media users judge the news content they receive from these social media. This study adopted a survey research design with a sample size of 384 respondents. Findings show that social media have become a major source of news among residents in Abuja because of the media‟ interactivity, connectivity, propinquity and speed of dissemination. Besides, over 89 percent use of social media mainly due to its ease. Nevertheless, the level of credibility of social network is still very small; an indication of low-level credibility of the social media. It is, therefore, essential that social media users ensure exchange of credible information and users should always crosscheck information obtained with other available sources before approval and possible second distribution.
1.1 Background study
The Internet has become integrated into our lives as an important, if not very essential tool for information and communication (Fallows, 2005). The large quantity of information available online combined with heavy reliance on the Internet by information seekers raise issues of the credibility or quality of information found online. Credibility in this context refers to the believability or reliability of some information or its source (Hovland, Janis, s& Kelley, 1953). A long history of research finds that credibility is a multifaceted concept with two primary dimensions: expertise and trustworthiness. Secondary factors affect credibility perceptions as well, including source attractiveness and dynamism, (o’keefe 2002). It is assumed that the credibility of a message is a receiver-based judgment which involves both objective judgments of the information quality or accuracy as well as subjective perceptions of the source trustworthiness, expertise, and attractiveness. Recent concerns about credibility of news or content found on social media stem from the fact that internet and digitization technologies both lower the cost and have increased access to information production and dissemination. The result is that more information from more sources is available and easily accessible currently than ever before due to the rise in the use of social media like twitter, Facebook, blogs, Whatsapp, yookos, Wechat,Instagram,Badoo.e.t.c. In the past, substantial costs of information production and dissemination on a mass scale limited the number of sources to only those with enough power and capital to justify and sell an information product. In the digital environment, however, nearly anyone can be an writer, as authority is no longer a requirement for content provision on the internet or social media. This obviously raises issues of credibility, a problem that is exacerbated by the fact that many web sites operate without much supervision or editorial review. Unlike most traditional (i.e., print) publishing, information posted on the Web may not be subject to filtering through professional gatekeepers, and it often lacks traditional authority indicators such as author identity or established reputation there are no body or organization saddled with the responsibility of regulating their activities. Additionally, there are no universal standards for posting information online, and digital information may be easily altered, copied, misrepresented, or created anonymously under false pretenses.
The social media in Nigeria has become a steady source of news for Nigerians but the question of credibility of the contents from this various social media is the major bane of this study. Since the freedom the social media provides is being used as a tool most times against the government, and the rate at which content on social media spread is alarming, an example of how information spreads on social media is the #bringbackourgirls, using salt and water to cure Ebola the response generated by this trending topics was massive all thanks to the social media.
The credibility of news on social media is like a “border line” that mediates an organization and its strategic publics (Cutlip, Center, & Broom, 2000), the public relations function essentially deals with the credibility of the organization and the communicated messages. Therefore, to manage organization-public communication strategically, credibility management is the key. In communication research, the credibility of the communicator has been widely suggested to influence the processing of the communicated content and the change of audience attitudes and beliefs (Burgoon& Hale, 1984; Hovland, Janis, & Kelley, 1953). The credibility of the channel/medium of communication affects the selective participation of the audience with the medium. Accordingly, individual audiences are paying closer attention to the media that they perceive to be credible. When individual audiences rely more on a certain communication medium for information seeking, they are likely to rate the medium more credible than other media.
Fast-developing technology, especially in the digital media environment, has empowered individuals and other stakeholder organizations to be creators of communication messages rather than remaining as the stagnant receiver of communication content (McClure, 2007). As a result, unlike the old days when organizations were often the only senders of messages, the communication process has increasingly become multidirectional, amplifying horizontal influences among individual public members themselves. Additionally, as the influence of emergent social media continues to increase, individual members of publics are starting to demand participatory communication with and from organizations. In either case, gaining credibility from publics is essential. Instead of being passive recipients of messages, publics are now active enough to select communication channels, especially when they care about an issue (Rubin, 2002). Unlike traditional media such as radio or television, the use of social media by individuals is increasingly becoming “instrumental” (Rubin, 1984), depending on their motivation for communication that is why you want to communicate (functionality), purposive or intended nature of communicating that is the channel you intend using to communicate (intentionality), communication choice (selectivity), and involvement with media . Given such audience selective and active media use, communication without the creation and cultivation of credibility for better public engagement or brand-building can be hardly effective (Holtz & Havens, 2009).
1.2 Statement of the problem
Since the establishment of Abuja, traditional source of news only present current events and stories approved by the government (Hong, 2011). Now, independent online media such as social media websites and blogs allow anyone to publish stories on everything from on-the-spot news coverage and research to opinion and rumor. The effects of this increasing diversity of news sources are not fully known; but how credible and believable are this user generated contents? How trustworthy are the source of this news being posted? However, it is likely that not all segments of the population have been influenced equally due to the digital nature of the newer sources. Judging the credibility of the source and of the content on social media is a major issue among users of social media, with this credibility problem associated with social media news, it is necessary to determine the extent to which social media users believe the news content they carry from these social networks.
With the increase dependence of individuals on social media for news and the proliferation of social media sites by media houses e.g. CNN, Sahara reporters e.t.c. Can the reliability or credibility of this news on social media sites be ascertained if yes to what extent?
This study is embarked on to ascertain the views of residents of residents of Abuja on the credibility and reliability of news on social media and also discover the criteria they use to evaluate the credibility of various contents on social media.
1.3 Aim and objective of the study
· To find out if residents of Abuja considers news on social media to be credible
· To find out how residents of Abuja use the various social media.
· To determine how residents of Abuja judge news credibility
1.4 Research Questions
· . How do residents of Abuja perceive the credibility of current events information on social media?
· What is the self-reported media use of residents of Abuja?
· What are the criteria used by Abuja residents to judge the credibility of news on social media?
1.5 Justification of the study
This research will demonstrate to Abuja residents how to determine the level of authenticity in the communicated messages on social media. It will also help new media researchers to formulate policies that will regulate activities of citizen who post news or act as journalist on social media and encourage the government to provide some intensity of gatekeeping at the channel level.
Most importantly the study will add to good knowledge on how residents of Abuja determine credible news on social media.
1.6 Delimitation of the study
The coverage of the study will be limited to selected local government in Abuja metropolis which will represent the generality of the residents of Abuja and also two major social media will be considered in this study, namely twitter and blogger.
1.7 Operational definitions of terms
Blog: A weblog is a type of website usually maintained by an individual; it serves as an online journal or dairy, which is constantly updated with events.
Credibility: The quality of being believable or worthy of trust
Hashtags: This is using the symbol # to mark keywords or topic in a tweet.
Internet: a worldwide means of exchanging information and communication through series of interconnected computers. The word internet is a contraction international network.
Online journalism: This simply means stories that are written specifically for the web instead of newspapers, radio, television, or magazine
Perception: Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment
Traditional media: Traditional means of communication and expression that have existed since before the advent of the new medium of the Internet.
Twitter: Twitter is a free social micro blogging service that allows registered members to broadcast short updates.
Social media: Social media is a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.