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Social Media as Information Source


Social Media as Information Source: Recency of Updates and Credibility of Information

Newer communication technologies have increased the possibilities for how people can send and receive information. Social media are one such technology that has seen increased usage as an information source (Pepitone, 2010). For example, social media are being used to seek information about serious topics, such as circulating up-to-the minute information about cholera outbreaks in Haiti and identifying clean water sources during this outbreak (Sutter, 2010). Social media has also seen a great deal of usage by those seeking health information, with 59% of adult Americans (80% of internet users) reporting that they have accessed this type of information online (Fox, 2011). As this Pew Report suggests ‘‘people use online social tools to gather information, share stories, and discuss concerns’’ (Fox, 2011, p. 5). Similarly health professions and organizations are seeing the advantages of adopting social media because it is seen as an information equalizer allowing access to health care information to populations who, in the past, would not have this access (McNab, 2009). It provides a sense of privacy for the information seeker in that he/she does not have to disclose personal information in order to obtain health related information.

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