Most people today are consuming news mostly through social media rather than the more traditional news channels. According to the recent Pew Research Center survey, 62 per cent of people get news through social media. Social networks are people-centered. The information you get there is a projection of preferences and actions of the people you follow. Most social networks consist of a number of micro-networks of followers and friends. This very structure creates boundaries for distribution of information. All major social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) already switched to non-time based feeds – they are trying to solve this problem with an algorithmic approach. But even the most advanced algorithms that were created by hundreds of brilliant engineers can’t compete with the human brain. Not everyone is a good content creator, but all of us are good information curators. We can easily recognize information, categorize it and separate the noise from the signal. Laura K. Inamedinova, Business Development Manager at Plag and an information flow expert says, “In today’s world, people consume content just by what their friends share on social media. They live in some kind of bubble and it is very hard to reach what is outside of it.” And that is not far from the truth. If you look into Buzzfeed, one of the most popular sites for Millennials, most of their traffic comes from social media. According to SimilarWeb, almost 50% of traffic for Buzzfeed comes from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. These mechanics can have serious consequences when social media users post and share misleading information. Following the first diagnosis of an Ebola case in the United States in 2014, people tweeted about the topic at a rate of 6000 tweets per minute, many of the short messages containing false information leading to unwarranted panic. Laura believes that the key to preventing outbreaks of false information lies in the opening of echo chambers and a more balanced system of information distribution. “Plag is using a social engineering approach,” she explains. “There are a lot of supplementary algorithms inside, but the most important work of curation is performed by humans. We are applying the power of the collective mind to information flows.” The output is filtered information sorted by relevance and importance and enriched by users’ insights and thoughts. Every user in this information network influences the flow of information on the same level. Inamedinova believes that this approach is more neutral, where users see information that is more relevant and accurate. Social media has evolved a lot in the last five years, and it continues to do so. It will be very interesting to see how it shapes up in the next decade or so. We might see more human curated content, and several niche networks.
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