Social media platforms have grown drastically in number and content with the increased use of smartphones and data connectivity. This growth has created opportunities for news agencies to deliver updates, comments and expert opinions to virtually everyone, even those who aren’t actively looking for it. This study compares social media platforms Twitter and Reddit, including their journalistic purposes and influences when an event occurs.
According to a Pew Research center survey report, 67 percent of adults receive their news from social media outlets and use that information to develop their own opinions. In addition to providing and influencing view, social media help journalists get breaking news and real-time updates from their sources.
A recent study analyzed Reddit comments and Twitter feeds of six news categories spread across 500 news events. Among its findings:
- Twitter content relies heavily on relationships between people who follow each other. Twitter users typically see content on their feed only posted or shared by people that they follow. In contrast, Reddit users see content that they subscribe to based on their interests.
- Twitter is typically more useful for understanding the development and evolution of an event, while Reddit is more useful for gathering information during the initial phase of an event.
- The lifespan, or the difference in time between the first and last hour of an event, is longer on Twitter than Reddit because content on Twitter can be shared long after the initial news comes out. It also allows news sources to add updates to their tweets and get the original content in circulation again, which attracts the attention of users as events are occurring.
- Reddit users receive their news content from messages that are posted under subscriptions. These messages are not as readily circulated back into any feeds. As a result, the influence of news outlets on Reddit relies primarily on relaying news in the initial phase of an event.
- Content related to internal affairs and law and order is more readily available to users of Reddit, while content related to science, technology, environmental news, disasters, and emergencies receive more attention through Twitter.
In conclusion, the category of news events and the phase at which they occur (initial or developmental) typically decide which social media platform is more suitable for users to receive their news.
To read the full text of the survey: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468696418300338
Chandra, J., Dandapat, S.K., Priya, S., & Sequeira, R. (2018). Where should one get news updates: Twitter or Reddit. Online Social Networks and Media, 9, 17-29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.osnem.2018.11.001