Social Media as Research Tools

Group: Cristian Medeiros, Ian Smyth, Alejandro Flores

Social media has existed before the internet age and so has the ability to use is a research tool. However, with the inclusion of the world wide web, our access to research has grown exponentially as new avenues into social media have opened up. Here are four examples of using social media as a research tool.

1. Television/Radio – Television and radio were ground breaking mediums to deliver content and information because of the fact that the audience was able to see and hear what was happening rather than visualize it for themselves through the newspaper. Although both deliver enormous amounts of documented information all the time, the content being delivered is often biased. Media is not fully liberated on these mediums, as channels on them are owned by corporations, both publicly and privately. It’s up to those corporations as to what kinds of news they’d like to deliver and how they’d like to portray it. It’s up to the audience to pick apart what news is objective and what news is subjective and be able to gather research off of that.

2. Twitter and Facebook – Twitter and Facebook are excellent sources to look up people and learn a ton of relevant information. However, this information is not necessarily professional and credible. It’s important that for those looking for documents and information relevant to what they are looking for, that they check the credibility of the user posting and cross reference using a search engine. Make sure the post is credible and has sources, and make sure the user posting is legitimate and not just someone posting trash to throw people off. Information could also be restricted to people under a certain age as they may be too young to sign up for a Facebook or Twitter account. In a lot of cases these young adults lie about their age to gain access to the social media.

3. Newspapers – Newspapers are incredible sources to get information from, and they even include a chronological recording that can be found online. They’re one of the oldest forms of social media, and one of the most credible. Newspapers, although possibly biased, are usually much more objective than subjective. There’s less room to elaborate on stories so publishers tend to write much more facts than opinions, which serve much better as research tools. Although the popularity of physical print is dying, the majority of newspapers publish their articles online which can be accessed by anybody. Articles on newspapers also always have a visible author and the company they are published from is usually very credible, such as the New York Times or the Toronto Star.

4. Blogs – Blogs are great sources for research since the researcher has direct access to the author’s line of thoughts, ideas, and chronology. However, most authors have no commitment to maintaining their blogs and as such over time certain blogs could become discontinued. Also, blogs tend to be much more subjective and opinionated than other forms of social media research tools. It takes a lot longer to read a blog and shift through the relevant information than to find other information from, say, an online newspaper article. Also, if the blog doesn’t have citations or sources at the bottom how does the researcher even know the information is legitimate? Professional blogs are fantastic forms of information for research, but there’s a lot less professional blogs than amateur blogs. In summary, with the inclusion of new forms of social media the ability to access information for research is absolutely incredible. Never before have we had so much access to so many types of objective and subjective types of information and data. The ability to shift through the internet and social media to find relevant and credible forms of research is an important skill to learn and have, but once obtained makes researching things quick and efficient. Everything that happens in the world today is now written and documented, by tons and tons of people, from amateurs to professionals. They can use newspapers, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, television, radio, and all sorts of social media to deliver information. We really do have an unlimited source available for research.

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