Is Twitter a Reliable News Source?


Thuy Pham, Journalist

Twitter is one of the world’s largest social media networking applications. Though there are approximately 1.3 billion accounts created, approximately 44% of those who created accounts left Twitter before even tweeting out something. According to Twitter, there are 330 million people who are active users of the application around the world. Of these millions of user, 74% of all Twitter users rely on the application for both their global and local news. This ultimately raises a question for the global media and journalists: is Twitter a reliable news source?

According to PressBooks, a trustworthy news source must be determined through its practices, author or reporter expertise, type of work, citations or references, methods, whether or not the news is locally sourced, whether it has actional feedback, and the type of audience that it appeals to. Additionally, according to this source and various others, it is important to read things by people with political agendas. This minimizes bias and or manipulation of facts within an article. Twitter, however, is a forum where people from various types of background have access or the ability to manipulate or fabricate evidence and information. In addition to this, Twitter users are free to post anything they desire- which can sometimes lead to posting fake news.

Journalists and researchers from Nieman Reports conducted a study that evaluated both the effectiveness and credibility of news derived from and or posted on Twitter.

According to journalist Janic Tremblay, the main conductor of the research study, “News will find you wherever you are.” This describes the inevitability of worldwide access to news sources. It also provides an insight on the fact that news can easily be manipulated through word of mouth, or through social media posts. These researchers found that Twitter, in a sense is like a radar and can often steer off course. This means that once a story is posted, social media users are able to easily change the story to their liking or how they want the story to sound- based on what they post or spread about the event.

Social media is inevitably not a very credible news source. This lies solely in the fact that social media is being updated, changed, or manipulated at a very fast rate each day and the fact that pretty much anyone around the world can post what they want. For this reason, statistics drawn from social media or social media comments can be skewed or be slow to update, which would cause a lack of sufficient data or evidence. Though social media is increasingly being utilized to spread news, there is still much to consider when using social media applications like Twitter to conduct one’s research studies.