From personal experience, I get all of my news from Facebook. I don’t read the newspaper and I don’t even have cable, so the Internet is really the only place I receive my news. To people like my parents, social media is a hub of oversharing nonsense with no relevance to real life; but to those of us who rely on social media for not just entertainment, but also in order to stay current, social media really is the only way we stay “connected”.
When the Paris attacks happened, I found out instantaneously. All I had to do was look on the trending tab on my news feed to confirm and all I had to do to keep up to date was look up the hashtag #PrayforParis. When there are natural disasters or anything that affects pubic safety, Facebook will have a “check-in” option as a status so you can alert friends and family abroad that you are alright. With the Fort McMurray fires, the hashtag #AlbertaStrong trended and countless people were able to use social media to either find out where to help, where to donate, and where to receive donations. I remember listening to the radio and the DJ said that if anyone had questions at all to direct them to the Red Cross Facebook page for more information and then mentioned the Red Cross website as well. People affected by the fires could go to Facebook and go onto the many “Buy and Sell” pages in search of donations or a place to sleep. People began organizing events on Facebook in order to help and the amount of time it took for the province to help with the victims and offer their skills and resources to help with rebuilding the city was incredible.
With the Canadian elections, I think these past elections were the first time Canadian government received any kind of global attention and it was because the Internet decided that Justin Trudeau was good looking. With the US presidential elections, the world has never been able to be more in tune with current events.
Traditional media would not have stood a chance in reporting and organizing help nearly as fast as social media. It’s almost scary how fast news spreads on the Internet, but compared to the day or week it would take traditional media to release a story, it definitely is not a negative. In addition, there is no fear of receiving partial or biased information because you have so many different perspectives regarding whatever major event is trending next.