And That's The Way It Wasn't: Why Social Media Is No Place To Get Your News

The good news is that the share of Americans regularly getting their news from X (formerly Twitter) has declined six percentage points since Elon Musk took control.

That's marginally good news, because the type of news Musk personally promotes to his 163 million followers increasingly includes hate speech, especially antisemitism.

The bad news is that even as Americans abandon X as a source of news, they are now regularly getting it from an equally questionable source: TikTok.

According to new data released this week by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans regularly getting news from TikTok has more than doubled from just 22% three years ago to 43% today.

TikTok's rise corresponds with proportionate declines in news being accessed by Americans on other major platforms -- especially Facebook, Reddit and Snapchat -- but also a significant bump for Instagram.



Personally, I've been surprised by the rapid ascendancy of TikTok as a source of news and information for a variety of reasons. I even commented about it at MediaPost's last Marketing Politics even in Washington, D.C. early this year, when after seeing case after case after case of candidate and committee campaigns using the short-form video platform to sway voters, I described the phenomenon as "peak idiocracy," to which some of my MediaPost colleagues shushed me and said I was old school and out of touch.

But it wasn't just the dumbing down of news, information, civics and public affairs that concerned me, it was for what purpose and toward what end.

I may be neurotic (okay, I'm definitely neurotic) and a bit paranoid, but I still don't trust most social media platforms as a source of fairness and balance -- much less objectivity -- and believe that when it comes to promoting civics and and an informed public, they are working at cross purposes, and maybe things more nefarious than that.

"Shame on you," actor Sacha Baron Cohen reportedly told TikTok's U.S. brass during a private call they had with Jewish celebrities and influencers making an appeal that the platform stop amplifying antisemitic hate speech and disinformation.

"What is happening at TikTok is it is creating the biggest antisemitic movement since the Nazis,” he reportedly said.

I don't trust TikTok for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it is owned and controlled by a hostile foreign power that has actively been waging a cold information war against the United States, but mostly because it has been peddling the media equivalent of fentanyl: addictive short-form, entertaining content, but its algorithms continue to amplify and accelerate far less transparent sharing of content intended to create discord.

By comparison, I have to give props to Elon Musk for at least promoting his antisemitism out in the open.

And yes, that is scary in another troubling way, because as Rachel Maddow reminds us in her new book "Prequel," this has happened before: Notorious anti-Semite and automobile magnate Henry Ford used his own media platforms to promote hatred against Jews and even ended up getting sourced as an inspiration for Adolf Hitler, including inclusion in "Mein Kampf."

2 comments about "And That's The Way It Wasn't: Why Social Media Is No Place To Get Your News".
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  1. Mark Sutton from NHR, November 17, 2023 at 11:15 a.m.

    TikTok is controlled by a hostile foreign power?

    Can you please identify that unamed power?

    And it's interesting you post a MSNBC video, considering the flack the network has rightly been getting for justifiying the 10/7 terrorist attacks by Hamas.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., November 17, 2023 at 12:05 p.m.

    @Mark Sutton:


    2) The video I posted explains Henry Ford's history using his own media to promote antisemitism. It has nothing to do with Hamas.

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