Fresh data has revealed that Instagram is the most popular news source among British teenagers, intensifying calls to regulate Big Tech as news providers.
According to a new Ofcom report , youngsters are turning away from traditional news channels like the BBC and instead looking to Instagram, TikTok and YouTube to keep up to date.
Meta owned Instagram is used by nearly three in ten young people for news, whilst TikTok and YouTube are close behind with 28 per cent of youngsters scrolling through their news feeds.
Director of the Internet Policy Unit at the Tony Blair Institute Max Beverton-Palmer told City A.M. that while the figures are “unsurprising”, it does raise questions for what needs to be done to regulate social media firms.
“We need to ask ourselves, what does an editor look like in 2022?”, he said, adding that the influence of a news feed and algorithm have become increasingly important in the way we consume news.
Beverton-Palmer said that although the Online Safety Bill, which has been delayed until the autumn, “takes you a lot of the way” in providing a framework for Ofcom to regulate Big Tech as news providers, there needs to be a combined approach.
He said there needs to be both self-regulation from the likes of Instagram and TikTok, as well as a framework for guidance.
Managing Editor at NewsGuard Madeline Roache echoed her concern about Ofcom’s findings.
“This trend [towards social media for news] is particularly worrying as large tech platforms haven’t done nearly enough to protect users from unreliable sources of information,” she said.
“These platforms should roll out source-level ratings to empower this next generation of readers with objective and transparent assessments of news sources. Until they do, young people will continue to be exposed to the dangers of misinformation on social media.”
The most recent amendment to the Online Safety Bill tabled that social media platforms would not be allowed to remove or hide articles posted by recognised news publishers.
The idea was that this would provide an additional layer of protection for online journalism and reduce the risk of arbitrary moderation decisions against news publisher content at the hands of Big Tech.